As a union member, you have Rights. With each new contract, your bargaining team negotiates with the college to refine and establish new rights and benefits. Your best defense is to educate yourself about your rights by reading the current contract. When in doubt, contact a union board member as soon as you have a concern. The most fundamental right we have is from a 1975 Supreme Court decision, NLRB v. J. Weingarten, known as Weingarten Rights.
Weingarten Rights guarantees an employee the right to Union representation during an investigatory interview. This is a federal right, and without representation, you are not required to participate in a discussion.
How this supports you: If you are asked to attend a meeting with your supervisor or the Human Resource department, and you do not know the context of the discussion, you should inquire about the reason for the meeting and ask for an agenda. If you have a reasonable belief that discipline, change to your working conditions, termination, or other adverse consequences may result from what you say in this meeting, you have the right to have a union representative join you at the meeting.
Learn more about your Weingarten Rights and how you invoke them. (Weingarten PDF)
If You Get into Trouble
Whether your “innocent” or “guilty,” one day, you may find yourself called into your supervisor’s office to answer questions. Your first thought may be, “I haven’t done anything wrong, so there’s no harm in answering a few questions.” But, before you take the meeting with your supervisor, contact a union executive board member to make sure proper procedures are followed. Not all supervisors are knowledgeable about a union member’s rights.
Addressing Workplace Issues
USofCC has a Grievance Chair who can work with members to assess and address your issues with the human relations (HR) office. Union representatives have monthly meetings with HR and the college labor attorney. In these meetings, the union presents contract violations and member’s concerns on a variety of issues. Both sides attempt to find solutions within the guidelines of the contract. Common problems include overtime, extra work assignments, workplace conditions, and compensation. If you have an issue or concern, contact the grievance chair (see contact list). It is best to contact the chair as soon as possible so the union can protect your rights. The chair can also work with members to submit a formal grievance.
A grievance is a formal complaint, usually lodged by an employee or the union, alleging a misinterpretation or improper application of one or more terms in a collective bargaining contract. The method for dealing with grievances is through the grievance procedure negotiated in the union contract. If a grievance cannot be settled at the supervisory level, it can be appealed to higher levels of management.
It is our experience that education employees often work extra hours without being adequately compensated. The fact is that many employees and their supervisors are not familiar with federal and state laws governing overtime. Overtime pay depends on the classification of your position. Either your title is exempt from overtime pay or non-exempt. Your job description should state your status; if not, contact Human Resources for clarification.
An employer can require you to work overtime. Non-exempt members must be compensated. With the agreement of their supervisors, Exempt members can be eligible for compensatory time off equal to the amount of time they have worked. The union is currently in negotiations regarding the process of obtaining compensatory time off for exempt members. Check the contract for the approved language.
Conditions for overtime for non-exempt members:
- All overtime work must be compensated.
- After 40 hours in any given workweek, you must receive 1.5 times the regular compensation rate for each additional hour.
- Paid lunches may count towards calculating a 40-hour week.
- Compensatory time is provided at 1.5 times the hours worked after 40 hours.
- Upon severance, you must be paid for all unused compensatory time.
Examples of situations that constitute approved overtime for non-exempt members.
- Your supervisor gives you formal approval to work overtime.
- Your supervisor, who does not have authority to approve overtime, asks you to continue working after hours as a favor.
- Your supervisor knows that you are working and does not stop you.
- Your supervisor is not available, but you work extra hours due to a work-related situation that you are expected to handle.
When is extra work not compensated?
- You are reprimanded, suspended, or fired for insubordination because you refused to obey a direct order by your supervisor to stop working.
- You are an exempt employee not covered by overtime. Examples are Academic Managers, Academic Advisers, Assistant Directors, Staff Therapist, some Admissions positions, and Institutional Effectiveness positions
Keep an accurate daily record of all hours worked. When you fill out your timesheet, add your overtime hours to your “Regular Salary Schedule.” If you work more than 40 hours in any workweek without receiving overtime pay, please contact us. You may be eligible for reimbursement for lost wages if you have reliable records for overtime worked in the past.
Position Evaluation Review
A common concern for members is taking on additional work that has not been part of their regular workload. This might happen because someone has left the college, a position has been eliminated, or a person has moved out of the department. There is a process established to address these types of situations. A member can get a stipend to compensate for the time they perform extra duties or get a permanent pay increase. Check the contract for the most recent language. The most crucial step is to contact the Grievance Chair immediately so you will be compensated. If you know beforehand that you will be taking on additional work, contact the union. If the process is not followed, you might be denied compensation for extra work.