In an action that took over 18 months to complete, NAPE/AFSCME member Shane Norseen’s patience and perseverance led to a major victory for union members after he prevailed in two grievances that ended with a final order to place him in a vacant position he applied for in Loup City.
Shane has been a Senior Highway Maintenance Worker in St. Paul for over a decade. When a vacant position was posted closer to his home in Loup City, Shane decided to apply. Our contract guarantees that members will be selected for vacant positions based on their knowledge, skills, and abilities. When two employees rate substantially the same, the more senior employee is to be selected.
Only three individuals applied for the position, all of whom were already highway maintenance workers at other locations. Shane had eight years more experience than the other two employees, however, he was not selected for the position in Loup City. Shane contacted NAPE, and a grievance was soon filed on his behalf. The grievance alleged that by virtue of his nearly eight years more experience than the other candidates, Shane was at least equally qualified, and should have been selected for the position.
After hearing testimony, an arbitrator found that the NDOT interviewers exceeded their authority granted by our contract. The interview panel was allowed to consider the knowledge, skills, and abilities of each candidate, but instead, the interviewers here imposed a “likability” standard and chose the candidate who they liked the best. The arbitrator found that interviewers had a “manifest disregard for fairness” because they rated Shane as “unqualified” despite the fact that he has performed the job for nine years with a satisfactory or better performance evaluation each year. The arbitrator ordered NDOT to conduct new interviews with an impartial interview panel.
New interviews were conducted, but the result was the same. NDOT chose the same employee to fill the position in Loup City. NAPE filed a new grievance on Shane’s behalf alleging that the new interview panel still did not appropriately consider Shane’s knowledge, skills, and ability. A new arbitration hearing was set before a new arbitrator.
After hearing testimony, the new arbitrator found that NDOT violated our union contract because the interview panel did not consider Shane’s knowledge, skills, and abilities. The arbitrator found that based on the evidence, Shane was, at a minimum, equally qualified, and because of his seniority, he should be placed in the vacant position. The arbitrator ordered Shane to be transferred to Loup City within thirty days.
If you find yourself in a position where you have applied for a vacant position, and have been bypassed by someone who is less senior and/or less qualified than you, please contact us right away to discuss your options to enforce our contract. The contract is designed to place the most qualified employee in a vacant position, but where qualifications are at least equal, the most senior employee fills the vacant position.