Grievances: Questions and Answers
In order to best serve member needs we have a grievance committee. Vice-President Regina Merkel is the Grievance Chairperson who will handle all official grievance processing. She relies on the assistance of grievance contact persons for each level. Below you will find each a grievance contact person for your level or area.
What is a Grievance?
A grievance is a process that is used when an article of the bargaining agreement (contract) is violated and the issue is not resolved informally.
Who should I contact if I want to file a grievance?
Your Senior Building Rep. is the first person you should speak to. He/She will then determine if they can solve the problem themselves or refer it to the grievance contact person for their level or area.
Then what happens?
You will be asked to write or email the details of the problem to your level grievance contact person. The level grievance contact is the individual who will bring the issue to the grievance committee for discussion and assist the grievance chairperson in writing a formal, written grievance if and when it is determined that the member has a grievable issue. You will most likely be contacted for further information and may be asked to visit the Association office and meet with us to speak in person.
What do you mean by “a grievable issue?”
A grievance is a violation of the contract by the Board or its administrators. Other problems are solved in different forums (discussion with administration, Unfair Labor Practice to PERC, litigation). The grievance committee will make sure that the problem is dealt with in the proper forum. A building problem is usually handled by that building’s reps., if they are trained and able to do so. Sometimes a building problem can lead to a grievance, but that is not always the case. Don’t assume that because an issue was discussed that a grievance has been filed. Filing a grievance is the final, formal step, not the first.
What happens when a grievance is filed?
Most grievances start at level one and we attempt to resolve the problem with the individual who can grant the remedy a principal or supervisor. If the remedy is not granted it goes to level two and the Superintendent of Schools will then review it and either agree that there has been a violation of the contract or not. If there’s no remedy, then it may go to a Board Level hearing. This is the forum in which the Association will present the case to the Board. The Board will then render its decision, if it is not in our favor and we feel that we have a strong case we may then take it to a NJ Public Employee-Employer Relations Commission (P.E.R.C.) arbitrator to decide, and this is the final forum. The Grievance Committee will vote on whether to send a case to arbitration because there is significant cost to the Association. The decision of the arbitrator is binding on both parties. This is explained in our contract in ARTICLE 3.
How do I contact one of the Grievance team members?
Please use your private (not Vineland.org) email address and send to our Association email addresses. We should not use the school’s phone or computer systems for Association business.
Or better yet, CALL the VEA Office at 856-696-9200.