What is the Grievance Procedure?
The first (and often the last) step in the grievance procedure is an informal conversation with the appropriate University administrator. Many times the supervisor is ignorant of the contract negotiated between GAU and the University and may agree to follow the contract once they have been informed of the violation. The contract guarantees that the GA may be accompanied by a Union representative during this meeting. This representative may be the Steward or the Grievance Chair.
If the informal process does not resolve the situation the next step is to take it to the Department Chair/ Director. (Level One of the Formal Process)
If no settlement is reached the Graduate Dean shall meet with the grievant. (Level Two)
After this level the Grievant shall bring the grievance to the Provost or the Chancellor (Level Three)
If these additional meetings do not resolve the problem GA United may take the case to an outside Arbitrator. At the hearing both the union and the University will present their case. The decision of the Arbitrator is final and legally binding.
GA United is committed to working with Graduate Assistants at every step of this process. During the formal grievance process you can count on expert guidance and aid from the GA United Grievance Committee Chair and the IEA UniServ Director.
What are typical grievances?
Overwork- Assistants’ hours of work are reflected in their percentage appointment. It is understood that a GA with a 50% assistantship will work 20 hours a week, 25% appointment equals 10 hours a week. If a GA feels that he/she is consistently working more hours than they are contractually obliged to then they may object to this. GA’s must file a grievance within 5 calendar days of noticing (or should have noticed) that the workload was consistently excessive. It’s usual to work more hours one week then less the next. It is important to remember that the 20 hour rule is an average. The only way to really know if you are working too many hours is to keep track of your hours worked over a period of for example a month.
Dismissal- GA’s may not simply be fired because they just don’t get along with the supervising professor. Assistantships can only be terminated during the appointment term if the University follows due process and has ‘just cause’.
When can I file a grievance?
There are very strict timelines that must be adhered to during the grievance process. For example all formal grievances must be presented within 42 days after the first occurrence (except overwork issues) Moving a grievance up to the next level usually has to occur within 10 or 15 days. Failure to comply with these timelines can result in a grievance being considered settled and it not be pursued further. It is therefore vital to seek union assistance immediately.
What do I do if I suspect the contract has been violated?
If you think that the contract has been violated it is important that you seek union assistance immediately. You should contact your GA United Steward. You may also contact the IEA Marion Office at 1-800-431-3730. The Grievance Committee Chair can be reached via GAU.SIUC@gmail.com. You can help enforce the contract by making a habit of keeping records- save your Notice of Appointment, save all correspondence with regards to changes in department policies, maintain a record of all hours worked alongside all duties performed. This will assist you in presenting a solid grievance.
For Grievance Committee concerns, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.