KNOW YOUR RIGHTS AND HOW TO PROTECT THEM
1. Contract Guarantees 2012-2017
The GEO contract guarantees a set of rights to graduate employees, but it also establishes a procedure for protecting those rights. Becoming familiar with the contract is the first step to making it work for you.
- McKinley fee waiver and health insurance contribution during the semester you are employed
- Your tuition waiver is guaranteed and protected
- Limits on hours worked over the course of an appointment
- Safe working conditions
- Access to the training, equipment, and space you need to do your job
- Access to the supplies needed to do your job at no cost to you
- Consistent, non-discriminatory procedures for making appointments and evaluations
- GEO representation at any disciplinary meetings
- 6 weeks of parental accommodation following the birth or adoption of a child
- Contract enforcement with a legally binding grievance procedure
2. How the Grievance Procedure Works
Grievance Committee members have been trained to interpret the contract, and they evaluate when to file grievances on behalf of graduate employees. Filing a grievance simply involves contracting administrators to discuss and resolve workplace issues. The committee works with administrators according to the following steps:
- Immediate supervisor: “Unit Executive Officer” (UEO) (often department head)
- UEO’s supervisor (often a dean)
- Associate Provost
- Third-party arbitrator
At each step, administrators have 14 days to resolve an issue or to schedule a meeting to investigate it further. Most grievances are resolved at the first few steps.
*Note: There are time limits on using the grievance procedure. We have 30 days to initiate each step of the procedure.
3. Not Sure If You Have A Grievance?
You can contact the Grievance Committee to discuss ANY potential problem. A Committee member will meet with you to find out about your situation and recommend how to proceed. You can request a particular member to meet with – for instance a member from a specific college – and all information about your situation remains confidential.
4. What If I Have A Work-Related Injury?
1. We recommend you contact your supervisor (with GEO assistance if you like) as soon as possible and inform them of the injury and state that the injury is work related. Each department should have work-related accident forms for you to fill out. We can assist in contacting your department office for the work-related injury form.
2. After notifying your supervisor, if you feel you need medical attention, you should go seek it. If you go to the doctor, be sure to tell them it was work related. We recommend that you give your bills to the department head if you decide to seek medical attention. But please be warned, that if the administration contests this as being work related, GEO cannot represent you because this will be an issue between you and Workers’ Comp. (see #3 for more information)
3. If your medical treatment does not get covered, this issue becomes a workers’ comp lawsuit. At that point, the union cannot represent you as workers’ compensation claims are not a contractual issue between employer and employee. (GEO can only assist and represent employees on areas covered under the current contract.) At that point you might want to seek a personal injury lawsuit. We can provide a list of attorneys if you are interested.
5. Who Has Access to the Grievance Procedure?
The grievance procedure is available to ALL members of the “bargaining unit,” which includes most TAs and GAs.
6. How Can I Help Enforce the Contract?
- Make a Habit of Keeping Records: Save notices about department policies, letters of appointment, and all paper and email correspondence about job responsibilities and performance. Use your appointment book to keep track of hours worked. Know how to access your pay records online.
- Apprise the Grievance Committee of Any Possible Problems: Even when the Committee doesn’t file grievances, it can document problems to help prepare for future contract negotiations.
- Contact the Grievance Committee Early: The contract grants 30 days to initiate each step of the grievance procedure, so contracting the Committee early ensures ample time to handle your situation.