Nebraska Association
of Public Employees

Gering Member Fights for and Wins Safer Working Conditions After Scary Situation

NAPE/AFSCME member Nicole Egan is a Program Specialist for the Department of Health and Human Services. While Nicole does not frequently interact with members of the public as a Program Specialist, there are times when she is asked to assist clients using her institutional knowledge and expertise. After being involved in a particularly tense situation with a client and police officers, Nicole realized that her worksite would benefit from new safety features. 

Nicole tried reaching out to appropriate management contacts to inquire about additional safety features. When Nicole couldn’t get a timely response from DHHS management, she reached out to NAPE/AFSCME for assistance. After discussing the facts with her union representative, a grievance was filed to enforce the health and safety requirements in Article 18 of our contract. 

Nicole and her union representative met with a Human Resources Representative from the agency as part of the grievance process and informed them about the intense situation that had transpired at Nicole’s worksite. Nicole and her representative also discussed potential safety features that could minimize future risk such as panic buttons, specified employees to assist with safety concerns, and additional training. 

After the conclusion of the grievance meeting, Nicole was informed that DHHS would provide the relief requested. A panic button was installed for urgent situations within the week, an Emergency Response Team was established to provide immediate assistance and to assess safety during intense encounters, and an office safety training course was scheduled for late March. 

Nicole empowered herself and her colleagues by using our union contract as a tool to communicate with management when she couldn’t get a timely response. As a result, Nicole improved the workplace for herself and her fellow employees. If you have safety concerns at work, please contact us for guidance and assistance.

Nebraska Association of
Public Employees