Grievance Manager Case Study: Communications Workers of America

We were contacted by District 3 about help with their grievance process in late 2015, and scheduled an online/phone conference call and screen demonstration with top-level District officers and staff, including CWA Vice President Richard Honeycutt and Assistant to the VP Nick Hawkins.  Using a screen-sharing conference tool (GoToMeeting), District 3 officers and staff were able to join this conference from various locations, which made the meeting easy to schedule and attend.

 

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About CWA District 3
 

The District is a large regional jurisdiction of the Communication Workers of America (CWA), representing 65,000 workers in over 100 locals in the Southeastern US.  District 3 includes Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina and Puerto Rico.  The District represents both public and private sector employment in diverse industries that include telecommunications, airline, health care, public service, printing and news media, broadcast and cable television, higher education and corrections.

 

During our online meeting, we learned that the District handles grievance appeals at Step 3 and arbitration from most of their Locals across a wide array of bargaining units, and they needed a unified system to help them manage the volume and diversity of grievances while maintaining and strengthening a consistent District-level process for managing details, processes and timelines for these important cases.

 

Discussion of Issues

 

The District wanted a uniform, consistent and centralized processing and document tracking system for their grievance processes.  The system needed to:

 

1. Provide all case record-keeping and document storage in a single database, accessible to the District and all Locals via the internet. 
2. Provide the ability to require required information standards across the District.
3. Provide flexibility to accommodate a wide variety of bargaining units and contracts and a substantial degree of Local specialization in all steps.
4. Provide reminder emails for approaching case due dates. 
5. Provide reports and other administrative and end-user features to increase the visibility and utility of archived data and documents. 

To accomplish these goals, we needed to provide District Staff with the ability to:

 

1. Design and create multi-screen procedures potentially specific to each local and bargaining unit, using an administrative “back end” application, as well as copy those procedures to other Locals as needed. 
2. Set time-line email alerts per Local, per bargaining unit procedure. 
3. Upload Contract provisions, per bargaining unit procedure, for easy reference and citation in grievances. 

The Planning Process

 

First, we worked with District staff to determine the District-wide standard for information requirements, using forms and procedures that they had been using to that point.  We created a set of charts and data sheets for review and correction by District staff, and eventual inclusion in the formal Project Plan.

 

Next, we began to design the application’s data relationships and schema, and created flow and data relationship diagrams for internal review and testing.

 

Drafting and Finalizing Specifications

 

We drafted screen specifications as “wire-frame” mock-ups for District Staff review.  These included individual screens with information on inputs and on-screen information display.  This began a process of edits and discussions about specific display and navigation features.  Several rounds of revisions were made and the Proposal was submitted.

 

The Administrative back-end was planned to be as clear and transparent as possible, with the goal of making administrative processes self-evident from the screen layouts and on-screen information.

 

District 3 accepted the proposed plan, specifications and consideration, beginning a 120 day timeline to produce the application for client beta testing.

 

GRIEVANCE-MANAGEMENT-UNIONS-CWA-QUOTE

Development Process
 

Development was done on a LAMP platform using object oriented PHP, MySQL, Javascript and JQuery.  These tools were chosen for their flexibility and widespread support across platforms and the software development industry.

 

Before development began, project management procedures were implemented using collaboration and work management software.  This was designed to keep the project on a schedule and to mitigate any slippage.  Progress and schedule were charted with tabular and Gantt chart reports throughout the development and non-developer alpha testing process.

 

Testing ended and the application was presented ready to the client within the agreed timeline.

 

Implementation

 

District staff was trained online to use the Administrator’s back end to create Local and CBA specific procedures.  Because the application was designed specifically for these processes and staff was previously engaged in the design, this was a short and easy training session of around 30 minutes.

 

The District 3 staff are now using Grievance Manager, and will be gradually rolling it out to their locals to enter sample sets of grievances representing various processing scenarios and obtaining feedback.

 

District Staff will be working with locals to determine whether procedures met local requirements and practices.  Changes were made to the District Standards. According to feedback and other considerations, procedures were modified by Administrators and some newly added inputs were made District Standard.

 

As the implementation process continued, several changes were made to standardized data inputs as well as the structure of the application.  Knowing all along that the planning process is never perfect, this flexibility was key to making the application achieve its original goals.

 

Use in The Field

 

The application has been in use for several months, and has been embraced by District 3.  This is a continuing process, but seems to be going well.  When we asked for comment, Assistant VP Nick Hawkins responded:

 

“Union Built PC’s Grievance Manager is changing the way we do business in District 3 and enabling us to better serve our members.  I can’t express how wonderful their staff has been in designing a program that is custom built for the specific needs of our District.”

 

Learn More about Grievance Manager

 

4 Not-So-Obvious Reasons Why Grievances Are Valuable in the Union Workplace

Virtually every union contract contains a grievance/arbitration procedure, which is the way the union and the employer tackle disagreements about workplace rights covered by the contract.  Filing a grievance is the equivalent of starting a lawsuit: you put in writing what you believe another party has done that is contrary to the law, and what action will be necessary to correct the situation.  If after going through a series of procedural steps the dispute is not resolved, ten the last step of the grievance process – arbitration – is the equivalent of appearing before a judge to argue the case out and obtain a final resolution, one way or the other.

Why Grieve?

The natural inclination is to think about pursuing a grievance only if it looks like it has a reasonably good chance of coming up a winner.  Why file a grievance in the first place, unless your union is determined to take the case all the way to arbitration if the employer doesn’t back down?

grievance

There may be lots of good reasons for a union to file a grievance that doesn’t expect to “win.”

1. Fire a Warning Shot
There are times when it doesn’t make sense to think about fighting the employer to the death on a particular action.  It may just not be worth it to arbitrate a relatively minor erosion of existing working conditions, or what looks like a one-time event.  At the same time, rather than do nothing, a group grievance could serve to put the employer on notice that its action has not gone unnoticed, and that if it tries the same maneuver again, it may well have a serious fight on its hands.

2. Shine a Light
One of the most frustration experiences in the life of a union representative is to hear and employer say; “That’s just you complaining, none of the people you say you represent even care.”  Sometimes it takes a grievance filed by an employee – or two or three or more – to get the employer to acknowledge that a particular problem is real and needs to be addressed.

3. Build a Record
One not entirely humorous definition of paranoia is “a heightened appreciation of reality.”  Sometimes it’s hard to know where to draw a line between an isolated memo taking you to task for something and the first deadly serious shot in your supervisor’s war against you.  If there may be a suspension or termination action looming in your future, sometimes the wisest course of action is to begin to build a written record in your defense right away.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Grievance Manager Custom Software for Your Union

4. Forge Employee Unity
It may well be that, for one reason or another, an immediate practical resolution of a particular problem may not be in the cards.  But a grievance – particularly a group grievance – might be just what is needed to start building solidarity among those wronged by a particular supervisor or policy.  If you and others can organize and take a small action, like filing a grievance, this may be the first step toward you and your co-workers later doing whatever it takes to fight – and win on this or a bigger issue.

RELATED: Automate Your Grievance and Arbitration Management Process

YOUR TURN

How have you used your right to file Grievances in the workplace?  What experiences can you share with other Union members?  We want to hear from you… sound off on the Union Built PC Facebook Page or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds.  And don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly #UnionStrong email newsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Union Built PC and Bargaining Power Announce Strategic Alliance to Empower Labor Unions

Press Contact:

Pete Marchese
Union Built PC Inc.
877-728-6466
pete.marchese@unionbuiltpc.com
www.unionbuiltpc.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Technology, Labor and Unions:

Union Built PC and Bargaining Power Announce Strategic Alliance to Empower Labor Unions

Agreement will empower Labor Unions with Digital Tools for Projecting Costs at Collective Bargaining & Real Time Grievance & Arbitration Tracking

NEW YORK, NY (PHANTOM POWER MARKETING) OCTOBER 18, 2016 – Union Built PC Inc. and Bargaining Power Inc. have entered into a Strategic Alliance Agreement with a goal of providing the Labor Industry the necessary tools to effectively represent their membership by Projecting Costs at Collective Bargaining and enabling Real-Time Grievance and Arbitration Tracking.

Union Built PC Inc. and Bargaining Power Inc. are the leading experts in Projecting Costs at collective bargaining and Grievance and Arbitration Tracking Labor Software. In combining the skill-sets of their respective teams and product offerings, we will enhance Labor’s ability at the bargaining table.

This partnership also provides an opportunity for Union Built PC Inc. and Bargaining Power Inc. to work collaboratively on product development, marketing and software sales.

“We at Union Built PC Inc. are constantly searching for software that will help Labor Excel. Bargaining Power Software is an extremely powerful Tool that will aid unions in analyzing costs and effectively representing their membership,” says Pete Marchese Director of Operations of Union Built PC Inc.

Bargaining Power Inc. has developed Bargaining Power® Software, which saves Labor Unions time and money as they conduct all of their cost analyses, whether for collective bargaining or arbitrations. First developed by a Labor Negotiator over 20 years ago, the software is continually enhanced by the experience and expertise of hundreds of customers, including the UFCW International and IBT, IAFF, IUOE and UFCW locals.

Bargaining Power is a unique product that gives labor a software solution that provides enhanced insight and is faster and easier to use than any spreadsheet model. It instantly allows unlimited proposals to change compensation, benefit, time off-allowances and work rules. Also, it automatically takes into account turnover rates and changing lengths of service.

“With Bargaining Power, unions can be confident they’re capturing the true costs of potential settlements. They can instantly compare all scenarios under consideration assuring they’re making the best possible decisions at the table,” says Betsy Cagan, President and founder of Bargaining Power Inc.

Union Built PC Inc. developed their Grievance Manager® Software in 2006, enabling the Labor Industry to track their Grievances, Arbitrations and related documents in Real Time.

As an immediate result of this alliance, Union Built PC will resell Bargaining Power and integrate it into our present suite of Software to automate Labor’s everyday tasks.

For more information about how Bargaining Power can help Labor Unions and International Organizations bargain and represent their membership more effectively, contact Pete Marchese at 877-728-6466 or pete.marchese@unionbuiltpc.com.

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For more information:

About Bargaining Power Inc.
Betsy Cagan founded Bargaining Power Inc. in 1991 to develop the software she wished she had when she was a labor negotiator for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York and Stop & Shop in Boston. Responsible for all economic analysis in both positions, she built complex spreadsheet models, but knew only compiled software could answer all her questions. Betsy is particularly interested in working with unions. She holds a BA in English Literature from Connecticut College and an MBA from Columbia University

Bargaining Power Website
Download the Bargaining Power Brochure

 
About Union Built PC Inc.
Union Built PC Inc. has been serving the IT needs of Labor since 2001. Union Built PC’s mission is to “organize” Labor and help them “excel in everything they do.” Union Built PC believes their success is based on products and services that have been developed by Union Members and customized to meet the specific needs of their Labor Union Clients. That’s why every member of the Union Built PC team is a Union Member. Currently, UBPC is organized by CWA Local 1101

Union Built PC Website
Download the Grievance Manager Brochure
View the Grievance Manager Demo Video
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Pete Marchese on LinkedIn

Learn the Common Topics in Most Union Contracts

Every union contract is different. Workers decide how issues are addressed and negotiated with the company. Union members decide what makes sense for the them. Contracts are also called Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) or Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs). Contracts are negotiated for a period of time, usually between 1 and 6 years.

Negotiator’s Advantage: Comprehensive Software to Manage the Collective Bargaining Process

Common topics in most union contracts include:

Just Cause (protection against unfair discipline or firing) is one of the most important protections workers get from a union – protection against unfair discipline or firing. It says that you cannot be fired or disciplined without “just cause.” It means that a boss has to prove that there was a good reason to fire or discipline you.

Seniority sets how decisions are made when more than one worker wants a shift or job assignment, wants to work overtime (or when no one wants to work overtime), etc. For example, the contract may state that if there are layoffs, the newest workers must be laid off first. Different contracts have different types of seniority clauses.

Pay Rates and Raises The contract will set rates of pay for all workers, including when workers get paid a “premium,” for overtime, shift and weekend differential, working in a higher classification, or being on-call. Workers often negotiate for a minimum number of hours of work, so they can’t just be sent home with no pay if there’s no work. Workers know when and how much raises will be during the contract.

Time Off and Benefits includes what holidays and how many sick and vacation days workers get — and fair rules for taking them. It can also set an employers’ payments to health and welfare and pension funds. Benefit levels may be set by the amount of time you have on the job.

Bargaining Power Inc. has developed Bargaining Power® Software, which saves Labor Unions time and money as they conduct all of their cost analyses.

Grievance Procedures makes sure that workers get a fair hearing by setting how problems will be worked out. Usually, grievances are filed when the boss has broken a contract rule, violated your rights under the law, ignored a company rule or procedure, or changed a past practice (what has always been done, if it’s a bad change or not done fairly for everyone). Grievances can also be filed for any unfair situation that management has the power to correct, even if there is no contact language, law, or company procedure. When a grievance or discipline cannot be worked out, most contracts say that an independent arbitrator (like a judge) will make a decision which both sides have to live with.

It is important to file grievances quickly. The contract will have timelines which must be followed. Usually the deadline is a certain number of days from when the problem happened – or when you (or the union) knew about it.

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Grievance Manager: Custom Grievance and Arbitration Software to Manage the Grievance Process Quickly and Efficiently

Fair rules for many situations are negotiated so that scheduling, job bidding, vacation bidding, and many other issues are done fairly. Common examples include if a worker bids into a new job, a rule that says that he can go back to his old job if it doesn’t work out; a fair system for scheduling, including posting the schedule in advance; how vacations are scheduled; “reporting pay” – a minimum number of hours you must be paid if you are called in to work; posting of empty jobs so that interested workers can bid for them; making sure workers have the equipment and supplies to do their jobs well and safely.

Legal Protections which are also law. These protections are included in the contract because it is often easier and faster to enforce the rights under the union contract.

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Union Built PC and CWA District 3

A Meeting of the Minds and A Mission

 

At the Request of CWA District 3 VP Richard F. Honeycutt, Union Built PC was honored to present their new district-wide and locally customizable grievance application at the District 3 Meeting in Daytona Beach Florida on March 22nd.

CWA-communication-workers-of-america-logoThe Grievance Manager Application was custom designed to District 3’s specifications, which includes one-click escalation from local to district control, and customizable email and text alerts at both district and local level. This system also allows for convenient, secure access to all grievances and arbitrations and documents from anywhere an internet connection is available.

Pete Marchese, Director of Operations and Barry Diederich, Director of Software addressed the Local Officers and took them through the operation of their Grievance Manager Application. Union Built PC could not help but notice the District 3 Mission Statement:

“Our Mission is to work together as a Team to build our Union.

We will develop and execute specific action plans, including education and open communication to all Locals in an effort to further build trust.”

… And its similarity to the Union Built PC Mission Statement:

“Helping Unions Excel in Everything they do”

There is no doubt in our minds that we will succeed in our mutual missions and that the Union Team at Union Built PC has provided CWA District 3 with the tools necessary to accomplish this and more.

Union Built PC would like to thank District 3 VP Richard F. Honeycutt, Assistant to VP Nick Hawkins and retired Assistant to the VP Don Larotunda for allowing us to provide them with our Grievance Manager Application.

We would also like to thank District 2-13 VP Ed Mooney for allowing us to build District 2-13s Grievance Manager. Union Built PC now has Grievance Manager tracking grievances and arbitration in real time in District 2-13, District 3 and in select Locals in District 1, CWA.

Click Here to Download the Grievance Manager Brochure or Request a Free Demo

NJ TRANSIT Strike… The Clock is Springing Forward Fast

The clock is ticking towards a possible NJ TRANSIT strike on Sunday, as contract negotiations between the organization and its unions are set to resume this morning.

The strike deadline is midnight Saturday, March 12. If the strike happens, NJ TRANSIT plans to gradually scale down service starting on Sunday.

fair contracct

Thursday afternoon, NJ TRANSIT negotiator Gary Dellaverson said no announcement of a deal was imminent.

“If there’s a shutdown, it will be terrible. It will be very inconvenient,” said NJ TRANSIT negotiator Gary Dellaverson said Thursday morning. “The discussions between us and the unions have continued, there’s nothing of value to report.”

RESOURCE FOR COMMUTERS: How To Get Around If NJ TRANSIT Shuts Down

After a day off from talks, leaders representing the 11 rail unions met with NJ TRANSIT officials face to face at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Newark for another round of talks.

“I don’t have anything very exciting to say,” Dellaverson said. “What we did this morning, for the last few hours, has been to continue to be precise with one another… as to the areas where there still remain differences between us.”

As talks commenced around 10 a.m., both sides expressed a desire to come to an agreement to avoid a potential strike.

“Whether it’s a today issue or a tonight issue or a Sunday morning issue, that’s just a game I don’t want to play,” Dellaverson said.

Rail union spokesperson Steve Burkert remained cautiously optimistic.

“We’re always hopeful that’s why we’re sitting, talking,” he said.

Dellaverson stressed the importance of keeping the discussions cordial.

“When you feel pressured, bad things happen,” Dellaverson said. “So I think trying to avoid that within reasonable measure is one of the things that we’re trying to do.”

Union Built PC and many of our team members are based in NY Metro. We have seen commuter-impacted strikes before and it is no laughing matter. We want to encourage you to plan ahead. If you’re a commuter who may be impacted by the strike click here for resources to navigate the NJ Transit strike.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Union Built PC and Collective Bargaining International Announce Strategic Alliance

Press Contact:
Pete Marchese
Union Built PC Inc.
877-728-6466
pete.marchese@unionbuiltpc.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Technology, Labor and Unions:

Union Built PC and Collective Bargaining International Announce Strategic Alliance

Agreement will empower Labor Unions with Digital Tools for Collective Bargaining and Real Time Grievance Tracking

VANCOUVER, BC / NEW YORK, NY (PHANTOM POWER MARKETING) March 2, 2016 – Union Built PC Inc. and Collective Bargaining International Inc. are the leading experts in Collective Bargaining and Grievance Tracking Labor Software. Combining the skill-sets of their respective teams and product offerings, both the companies and the Labor Industry stand to benefit.

“It just makes sense to make the Collective Bargaining process a digital one. We’ve literally tried to think of everything a union might need at the bargaining table and put it into Negotiator’s Advantage™,” says Fred Romanuk, CEO of Collective Bargaining Inc.

Union-Grievance-Arbitration-Negotiation-union-software-d2-DOWNLOAD-DTA“Negotiating the Collective Bargaining Agreement is the most important job of the Union. It is critical to the success of the Union and the representation of their membership. Our mission is the improvement of the collective bargaining process,” he adds.

This partnership also provides an opportunity for Union Built PC Inc. and Collective Bargaining International Inc. to work collaboratively on product development, marketing and software sales.

“We quickly recognized these opportunities beyond just our mutual teams. For example, the integration of Union Built PC’s Grievance Manager Application and Collective Bargaining International’s Negotiator’s Advantage Software creates an extremely powerful tool at bargaining and arbitration,” says Barry Diederich, VP Software Development of Union Built PC.

Collective Bargaining International Inc. has developed Negotiator’s Advantage™, a real-time, cloud-based, complete set of digitally automated collective agreement tools. A powerful Application that builds and tracks proposals and counter proposals, dramatically speeds up proposal research, development and automatically builds the MOA and Final Contract.

union-grievance-arbitration-management-brochure-downloadUnion Built PC Inc. developed their Grievance Manager™ Software in 2006, enabling the Labor Industry to track their Grievance, Arbitration and related documents in Real Time. Since then consistent updates and upgrades have been made to the software to keep the system current with evolving technology trends and customized to the needs of the Labor Industry.

The immediate result of this alliance means Union Built PC can resell Collective Bargaining International’s Negotiator’s Advantage™ and integrate it with Union Built PC’s Grievance Manager™.

“We are thrilled to be integrating Negotiator’s Advantage™ into our robust Grievance Manager software so we can offer our Union clients a totally integrated and comprehensive bargaining tool,” says Pete Marchese, CEO at Union Built PC, Inc.

“Our Mission has always been to help Unions excel, and this strategic alliance will give Labor a leg up during the critical collective bargaining and grievance and arbitration management process,” adds Marchese.

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About Collective Bargaining International Inc.
Founded in 2014, Collective Bargaining International Inc. are the developers behind ‘Negotiators Advantage™’, Collective Bargaining Software.

The development of Negotiators Advantage™ represents the culmination of over 20 years’ experience in consulting with Unions to improve the Collective Bargaining process.

Negotiators Advantage™ offers a complete set of digitally automated collective agreement tools that dramatically reduces time needed on research and proposals. It is a “Quickbooks” for collective bargaining, automatic compilation of memorandum of agreements, and more.

Now, Negotiators Advantage™ is integrated with Grievance Manager™ from Union built PC Inc. Grievance data entered into Grievance Manager can be imported into Negotiators Advantage with a just a keystroke.

Negotiator’s Advantage Online 
Download the Negotiatior’s Advantage Brochure 
View the Negotiator’s Advantage Demo Video 
Collective Bargaining International on LinkedIn 
Fred Romanuk on LinkedIn

About Union Built PC Inc.
Founded in 2001, after dozens of years working in the labor field as members, officers, and activists, Union Built PC Inc. offers cutting edge IT innovations for Labor which allow Unions to bargain and represent their membership more efficiently.

Union Built PC’s Grievance Manager™ offers unions web-based software to manage grievance processes from start through arbitration. Each application is custom designed and coded to fit the client’s specific processes and requirements, allowing for both optimal practice and efficiency. Applications feature contract-specific input requirements, worker and other role-specific input screens, calendar-based email notifications of deadlines, online document storage and fine-grained advanced search.

Union Built PC also offers and services VOIP systems, network servers, desktop PCs, laptops, and Android-based touch tablets. Its clients include the National Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (NJATC), JATC training centers nationwide, as well as a variety of local unions across the USA and Canada such as IBEW, AFSCME, SEIU, CWA, USW, IAM, ILWU, AFT, CUPE, APOC and more.

Union Built PC is a completely unionized company.

The Union Built PC Website 
Download the Grievance Manager Brochure 
View the Grievance Manager Demo Video 
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Union Built PC on LinkedIn
Pete Marchese on LinkedIn