University of Minnesota
Office of Human Resources
http://www.umn.edu/ohr
612-625-2016

Article 21 Settlement of Disputes

Statement of Philosophy

The University and the Union recognize that from time to time work related problems will arise in employment relationships not specifically addressed in this agreement. Because solutions to these problems enhance the quality of work for employees and the effectiveness of the University's programs, the parties wish to encourage the expeditious resolution of such problems in the spirit of partnership and mutual respect.

In pursuit of this joint understanding, the parties encourage resolution of such problems consistent with the following principles:

  • Employees and supervisors are encouraged to seek resolution of work-related problems at the lowest possible level.
  • Given that open communication between those involved is essential in trying to reach solutions acceptable to all involved, and since confidential treatment of information fosters open communication, it is imperative that those who participate in problem-solving respect the privacy of individuals involved and agree to treat issues in a confidential manner to the extent provided by law.
  • Those directly involved in the matter have an opportunity to be heard when participating in a problem-solving process.
  • The process of problem resolution is intended to be flexible and should encourage the use of all resources appropriate to the specific issues including existing University committees or conflict resolution/problem-solving resources.
  • Employee assistance programs available at the University may be helpful for employee(s) experiencing problems. The parties should inform employee(s) about employee assistance programs available at the University.

These statements of philosophy are not subject to the grievance procedure nor shall either party present this statement to an arbitrator as evidence or argument in connection with any disputes that may go to arbitration.

Section 1. General Provisions

  1. A. A grievance shall be defined as an alleged violation of the expressed terms of this Agreement.
  2. The term "days" as used in this Article shall mean calendar days.
  3. Any member of University management referenced below may specify a designee at least at the next higher management level than where the prior step of the grievance was heard.
  4. To appeal disciplinary action resulting in discharge, a grievance shall be initiated at Step Two.
  5. Upon mutual written agreement between Human Resources and the Union, a grievance may be initiated at any Step in this procedure, or steps may be waived.

Section 2. Problem Solving

Employees and supervisors are encouraged to attempt to resolve on an informal basis, at the earliest opportunity, a problem that could lead to a grievance. If the matter is not resolved by informal discussion, or a problem solving meeting does not occur, it may be settled in accordance with the grievance procedure. Unless mutually agreed between the Employer and the Union problem solving discussions shall not extend the deadlines for filing a grievance.

The Union Steward or in his/her absence, the Local Union President, or Area Steward, or Chief Steward, either with the employee or alone, shall present to the appropriate supervisor a written request for a meeting. If the supervisor agrees to a problem solving meeting, this meeting shall be held within fourteen (14) calendar days of receipt of the request. The supervisor, employee, Union Steward, and up to one (1) other management person shall attempt to resolve the problem through direct and forthright communication. If another member of management is present that person will not be hearing the grievance at Step Two, should it progress to that Step.

The employee, the Union Steward or in his/her absence, the Local Union President, or Area Steward, or Chief Steward, may participate in problem solving activities on paid time, in accordance with Article 31, Union Rights, Section 1H.

Section 3. Grievance Procedure

Employees and supervisors are encouraged to attempt to resolve on an informal basis, at the earliest opportunity, a problem that could lead to a grievance. If the matter is not resolved by informal discussion, it shall be settled in accordance with the following procedure. (These informal discussions shall not extend the deadlines for filing a grievance.)

All written grievances shall contain the following (Step 1 grievances are not expected to be in writing and do not require detailing of the items listed below):

  1. name(s) of the grievant or grievants, if applicable.
  2. a brief summary of the facts giving rise to the alleged violation.
  3. citation of the section or subsections of this Agreement alleged to have been violated.
  4. the date of the alleged violation.
  5. the specific remedy requested.

Any written grievance filed at Step Two or Three not in accordance with the above requirements may be denied on the basis of improper filing and may be appealed to the next Step in accordance with this procedure.

Step One

The Union Steward alleging a violation of the express terms of this Agreement shall within twenty-one (21) calendar days of the event or knowledge of the event giving rise to the grievance, present to the appropriate supervisor a written request for a Step One meeting. If no problem solving meeting has been held pursuant to Section 2 of this Article, the written request shall include a brief description of the issues of concern. If a problem solving meeting has been held, the grievance shall be reduced to writing and shall include the information listed in “a” through “e” of this Section prior to the scheduling of the grievance. This meeting shall be held within fourteen (14) calendar days of receipt of the request. The supervisor, employee(s), and Union steward shall attempt to resolve the grievance. If desired by the supervisor, another member of management may be present so long as that person will not be hearing the grievance at Step Two, should it progress to that Step. The parties are limited to one (1) representative each present on Employer paid time, in addition to the grievant and the supervisor.

The supervisor shall respond to the grievant with a copy of the response to the Steward within fourteen (14) calendar days following the meeting. If the grievance remains unresolved, the Union may submit it to Step Two.

Step Two

The written grievance shall be filed with the head of the unit (or the supervisor at the next management level, if the head of the unit is the grievant’s immediate supervisor) within fourteen (14) calendar days of when the Step One response was due and a copy shall be forwarded to the appropriate Human Resources Department. If no Step One response was given, the grievance shall be filed within fourteen (14) calendar days of when a Step One response was due. A representative of the appropriate Human Resources Department shall hold a meeting between the head of the unit, the grievant, and the designated union representative on Employer paid time to discuss and attempt to resolve the grievance. This meeting shall be held within fourteen (14) calendar days of the receipt of the Step Two grievance. Within fourteen (14) calendar days of the meeting, the head of the unit shall provide a decision in writing to the grievant and the union representative with a copy to the appropriate Human Resources Department. The parties are limited to two (2) representatives each, in addition to the grievant and the supervisor. If the grievance remains unresolved, the Union may submit it to Step Three as described below.

Step Three

The grievance shall be submitted to the Dean or equivalent administrative officer within fourteen (14) calendar days from the time the Step Two answer was due and a copy shall be forwarded to the appropriate Human Resources Department. If no Step Two response was given, the grievance shall be filed within fourteen (14) calendar days of when a Step Two response was due. A representative of the appropriate Human Resources Department shall hold a meeting between a Dean or equivalent administrative officer at the next management level, the grievant, and the designated Union representative to discuss and attempt to resolve the grievance. This meeting shall be held within fourteen (14) calendar days of the receipt of the Step Three grievance. The Union or the University may also request additional relevant information from employees other than the Grievant. However, these employees may not be required to present information.

Within fourteen (14) calendar days of the meeting, the Dean or equivalent administrative officer shall provide a decision, in writing, to the grievant and the Union representative with a copy to the appropriate Human Resources Department. The parties are limited to two (2) representatives each, in addition to the grievant and the supervisor.

An issue not raised by the Union in the Step Three grievance shall not proceed to arbitration unless mutually agreed between the parties.

Step Four

If the matter is not resolved, or if no decision is rendered within fourteen (14) calendar days of the meeting, the Union may request arbitration within ninety (90) calendar days of when the Step Three response was due. The request for arbitration shall be sent to the Office of Human Resources.

The Union will make a good faith effort to reduce the ninety (90) calendar day time limit whenever possible and particularly in cases involving a continuing back pay liability. Within ten (10) calendar days from the Union's request for arbitration the Union and the University shall select an arbitrator from an agreed upon list of arbitrators. The University and the Union may mutually agree to an arbitrator outside their agreed upon list. If the parties are unable to agree on a list of arbitrators, then the parties shall select, within ten (10) calendar days of the Union's request for arbitration, an arbitrator from a panel provided by the Bureau of Mediation Services or the American Arbitration Association. The parties shall have ten (10) calendar days following receipt of the list to select an arbitrator in the following manner: The Union shall have the right to strike one name from the list, the University shall then strike one name, and the process will be repeated and the remaining person shall be the arbitrator.

The parties shall have ten (10) calendar days following the selection of the arbitrator to jointly notify the arbitrator of the parties’ selection with a request for available hearing dates. The parties agree that arbitration hearings involving possible monetary liabilities shall be given first priority in scheduling.

Section 4. General Arbitration Provisions

  1. The arbitration proceeding shall be conducted in accordance with the rules and procedures of the Bureau of Mediation Services or the American Arbitration Association depending upon the list from which the arbitrator is selected.
  2. The cost of the arbitrator shall be divided equally between the parties.
  3. The decision of the arbitrator shall be final and binding subject to review in accordance with the applicable standards for judicial review.
  4. Each party shall be responsible for compensating its own representatives and witnesses.
  5. If either party desires a verbatim record of the arbitration proceeding, it may cause such a record to be made, provided it pays for the record and makes a copy available without charge to the other party and the arbitrator.
  6. If the parties mutually agree, they may request assistance from a Bureau of Mediation Services neutral and/or may establish procedures for expedited arbitration.

Section 5. Limits on the Arbitrator's Authority

The arbitrator shall have no power to:

  1. Rule on an issue excluded by this Agreement from the scope of the grievance procedure;
  2. Amend, modify, nullify, ignore, add to, or subtract from the provisions of this Agreement;
  3. Issue a back pay award for an amount that includes payment prior to the date the grievance was required to be filed under this Article;
  4. Establish wage schedules (the Employer can set and implement rates for new classes and the Union can grieve the rate(s));
  5. Make decisions contrary to or inconsistent with or modifying or varying in any way from the law or the application of the law.

The arbitrator shall issue the award within thirty (30) calendar days of the Step Four hearing.

Section 6. Time Limits

Should the Union fail to institute a grievance within the time limits specified, the grievance will not be processed and will be considered "waived." Should the Union fail to appeal a decision within the time limits specified, it shall be considered settled on the basis of the Employer's last answer and all further proceedings shall be dropped.

Unavailability of the designated Union representative shall not waive the time limits herein except as provided. If the University fails to respond to a grievance within the time limits specified, the grievance shall be considered denied at that Step and may be appealed to the next Step within the time frame specified. The time limits and sequence of steps provided in this Article shall be strictly observed but may be extended or modified by prior written agreement of the parties.

Section 7. Processing

All preparation and investigation of grievances shall be held when the grievant and Union representative are on non-work time. The designated Union representative and the grievant may attend grievance, and problem solving, per Article 31, Section 1H, meetings with the University administrative designee(s) during working hours without loss of pay.