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Grievance on non-renewal of NTTF over retaliation for protected activity resolved

November 21, 2017 / Phil Lesch

On March 1 we reported  that we had filed a grievance over the non-renewal of an externally NTTF member who we alleged was retaliated against for protected activity. On July 27 we reported that we submitted a Demand to Arbitrate on this grievance after denials at Steps One, Two and Three of the grievance process. We also filed a grievance on the apparent downgrade of that members position from NTTF to an academic professional position We subsequently discontinued prosecution of that grievance when the University provided convincing evidence that the academic professional position was a new position for new work.

As you know, the contract Article 28 Division C limits the scope of an arbitrators authority to "make whole." An arbitrator is not allowed to order the return of a terminated employee back to work. Although we could do nothing about her termination on June 30, 2017, our work did not end there.

In this case, PSU-AAUP had sufficient issue with mangerial behavior in this case to justify continuing the case to arbitration. PSU-AAUP also could not accept the premise that performance problems could be withheld from a member, but then used as a defense for termination.

We are pleased to report that we have a settlement on the grievance over which we demanded to arbitrate. The University and PSU-AAUP agreed as follows:

The University will provide coaching and supervisory training to the leadership of the unit in the areas of (1) positive performance management, (2) effective communication, and (3) the role of leadership in supporting employees’ success and sustaining employee morale.

The University will engage a Conflict Resolution expert to provide a training program tailored to the expressed needs of the units' administrators in topic areas such as: Addressing Departmental Conflict Effectively, Working with Intercultural Issues in Conflict, Working with Dynamics of Power in Conflict.  While these are general topic areas, the expert will tailor the training program to the particular needs of the unit.  In addition, the expert will assist unit administrators in identifying historic and current dynamics that may contribute to workplace conflict and explore ways to create healthy and productive responses. Further, external consultant, Donna Silverburg and associates, has been engaged to support administration and faculty in addressing personal and professional sources of conflict, conducting effective meetings and creating a climate in which faculty can be successful.

The University will strongly advise managers of AAUP members, and HR partners who support managers of AAUP members, that performance issues should consistently be addressed and communicated with members as they occur, with appropriate coaching and counseling and/or progressive discipline pursuant to CBA Article 27 geared toward correction of those issues. In most cases, performance issues should not be cited in any employment action, or grievance response, if management has not presented those issues to the employee and the employee given an opportunity to correct those issues.

  1. PSU-AAUP will be copied on the communications to managers about this issue; and
  2. PSU-AAUP will be allowed to attend and observe that portion of any manager trainings that address this issue, and receive copies of all handouts, slides, etc. that in writing advise managers of their duty to follow corrective action; and
  3. PSU-AAUP will be advised the follow up on those communications and will be copied on all follow-up communications.

PSU-AAUP agrees to withdraw the associated grievance and demand to arbitrate within 5 days of signing the agreement.

The parties acknowledge and agree that this MOU is based on the specific facts at issue in this case, and will not set a precedent or by cited by either party as a basis for decision in any future case.

We are pleased with the agreement and hope that it brings badly needed training and support to this unit's managers.

EF 11/28/2017

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