Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Unerstanding our contract, Articles 9,10,11,12

Let's continue our study of our contract.
Article 9, Probationary and Orientation Periods:

The first 150-180 days of employment is the probation period.  During this period the hospital has complete discretion to determine whether or not to retain or discipline the employee.  Prior to the contract they had this right for the entire length of our employment because we were "at will" employees.
All newly hired or voluntarily transferred employees will receive an orientation period in their new department that will vary according to their needs.  If a voluntarily transferred employee fails to be successful in their new department they will be returned to the department, shift, and hours they they had come from, if such an opening exists and if it does not, they will be offered another position which they are qualified for that is similar to their previous shift and hours.

Article 10, Discipline and Discharge:

I capitalize and bold this because to me it is the single most important line in our contract and in and of itself, worth all the work we have gone through.  All workers who do not have a contract are called "at will", meaning they can be disciplined or fired at the will of the employer.
 Under a contract, the employer must prove there is a "just cause".
The hospital must notify the union of any written warning, suspension, or discharge. The grievance committee will investigate these and if they feel there is some injustice, we will file a grievance.  The hospital is not required to notify the union of any verbal warnings or investigatory interviews, nor do they have any obligation to inform the employee that they have the right to union representation at such meetings, but it is a right under the contract.  Any employee called into a meeting for discipline or for an investigation that could lead to discipline should ask for representation. While you do not have the right to refuse to attend such a meeting, you do have the right to respectfully defer answering questions until representation is allowed.  If your rights are in question, violated, or you receive any discipline, you should immediately inform a union representative (delegate).

Article 11, Grievance and Arbitration

 This article spells out the procedure for grievances. 
In a nutshell, if you believe you have reason to file a grievance remember the "10 day rule". 
We have 10 days to file, they have 10 days to respond, we have 10 days to file at the next higher level and so forth.
Each grievance is settled at the lowest level possible.  Step 1 is a meeting between the employee and their clinical director.  If a solution is worked out (settled), then that is the end.  If an settlement cannot be reached, step 2 is between a union delegate and the assistant VP of patient care services.  If no settlement is reached, step three is between the VP of human resources and a union delegate.  If no settlement is reached, arbitration by an independent arbitrator is the next and last step and  their decision is final.

Article 12, Labor-management committee

This is a committee of 4 nurses, our AFT field representative and 4 hospital representatives to "engage in dialogue concerning providing optimal service as a community hospital and maintaining an effective collective bargaining relationship" that meets at least monthly.  We have already started to meet and the meetings have been helpful. (4 bargaining committee members are representing the nurses for now)

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