Nebraska Association
of Public Employees

Fremont Member Sees Salary Increase After Successful Grievance

NAPE/AFSCME member Marie Heimann is a Social Services Worker at the Fremont Customer Service Center. In early 2022, Marie and her supervisor set her SMART goals to be used for her annual performance evaluation. They were having trouble coming up with one final goal, so her supervisor suggested adding a goal of “Stress Reduction and Management.” This goal required Marie to use some of her 15 minute breaks and lunch periods to journal or go on walks in order to reduce stress around work. This goal was added to her performance evaluation.

In March 2023, Marie received the scores for her 2022 annual performance evaluation. Immediately, Marie noticed that she had received an overall unsatisfactory score. Upon further review, Marie realized that she had been rated unsatisfactory solely due to receiving a score of 1 or “does not meet expectations on the stress reduction goal. This was not because she didn’t complete the goal, but because she didn’t send in documentation confirming that she did so. The “stress reduction” section was the only goal Marie was rated unsatisfactory on. 

After receiving her evaluation, Marie reached out to her union representative for assistance. Our NAPE/AFSCME labor contract requires that SMART goals must be fully consistent with an employee’s assigned duties and responsibilities as described in his/her job description. While being a Social Services Worker can be stressful at times, it is not a requirement of the job to reduce and manage workers’ stress. This goal was not directly related to Marie’s work performance as a Social Services Worker. Marie’s union representative identified that the goal and unsatisfactory score violated the contract, and a grievance was filed on Marie’s behalf.

During the grievance process, DHHS initially agreed that this goal was not in compliance with the contract. However, DHHS argued that the grievance was not timely filed. DHHS argued that the goal itself was the contract violation, and since the goal was set in early 2022, the grievance should have been filed challenging the goal at that time.  

A hearing was held to determine whether the grievance was filed within the time requirements of the contract. NAPE argued that a grievance wasn’t required to be filed when the goal was set because there was no harm done to Marie at that time. It wasn’t the goal itself, but the evaluation of the goal, that actually prompted the grievance, because her unsatisfactory score caused her entire evaluation to be unsatisfactory. Because of the unsatisfactory score, Marie would not have received her performance-based pay increase on July 1. It was only then that a grievance could be filed.

A Hearing Officer agreed with NAPE’s argument that the grievance was timely filed, and soon after, DHHS changed Marie’s evaluation to satisfactory. She will receive her step raise on July 1!

Nebraska Association of
Public Employees