Let me use this space to address a few misconceptions:
· Management doesn't have to discuss any policy that they want to implement for their workforce with the Union in accordance with Section 102 of our Contractual Bargaining Agreement. As the union that represents those hired by WMATA, we have the right to object to the policy through the grievance process if we think that it is not fair. In this case, that is what we have done. We have already filed a class action grievance based on the fact that infractions given under another policy are now being incorporated into the new Disciplinary Matrix. That class action grievance is for the entire work force, not just bus operators.
· ATU Local 689 has NOT agreed to the Matrix. The Union has NOT negotiated with the Authority to develop the Matrix.
· The Union does NOT set discipline for any Authority policy until and unless we file a grievance and take it to arbitration or negotiate a settlement of the grievance.
· Not all policies of the Authority fall off your record after 365 days. For example, the right turn on red lights stays on your record for 2 years.
· The policies negotiated by the Union and the Authority are NOT a part of the Matrix. The Accident Policy, the Absenteeism Policy (sick & miss points), and the Drug and Alcohol Policy (EAP/SAP) were negotiated. Of the policies that were negotiated, only the Attendance Reporting Policy and the Accident Policy have the 365 day drop off. They were negotiated using the same process that we are using now through the grievance procedure.
This Matrix has caused such a stir that we are turning on ourselves. This does not help us! We can’t agree on a strategy or a plan of action if we are at each others’ throats. So let’s talk about what has happened thus far....
July 27, 2014: Bus Operations Management and Labor Relations requested a meeting with the Union where they presented their portion of the authority wide Disciplinary Guidelines Matrix. They explained how it was suppose to be instituted and who it would effect. Management also explained that what we were seeing was the draft for operations but every other department would be following with their own rule infractions that would be included in the Disciplinary Guidelines Matrix. At that meeting we voiced our general disagreement with the Matrix as a policy but agreed to meet again on August 12th.
August 12, 2014: We wanted to take action instead of just sitting and listening. We wanted to be able to prevent them from saying that they met with the union twice for procedure sake. We looked at 6 months of write ups for Bus Operations and Rail Operations to gauge exactly the type of infraction, the location where write ups occurred, and the extent of all write ups such as terminations verses suspensions, interviews/re-instructions verses cautions/reprimands. We also looked at the write ups that did not contain the operators signature, contained a typed date verses the actual date that the employee signed the infraction, were outside of the 20 days, and ones where operators agreed to use vacation verses suspension. We found quite a few of those mentioned above.
Although some union reps have tried to use the records review as a negative being perpetrated against the employees, there are instances that it is to our benefit to know what is in our record, why it is there and if it was issued properly by management. And although management argued the disparaging imbalance of discipline as their reason for the system-wide Disciplinary Guidelines Matrix, their position was not proven by the write ups on the bus operations side. Most of the write ups resulted in a caution, with very few second offenses.
At the August 12th meeting, we strongly reiterated our argument. We had four things that we did not agree with:
1) Just like when every other system-wide policy was initiated, every employee's record, which included any of the items on the matrix, must be wiped clean because that discipline was given under another disciplinary policy and for lack of another term, it would be double discipline;
2) We believe that disciplinary penalties should not stay on an employee's record for three (3) years;
3) Progressive discipline does not begin with a suspension, it begins with a written warning or a caution because it has been proven in numerous studies that excessive discipline doesn't get employees to follow rules; and
4) Violations should not be co-mingled with other infractions. This could become a slippery slope that could be exploited by Management.
We had several follow up meetings with Bus Operations but nothing was changed concerning our displeasure with the policy. We finally received the draft for Maintenance and Construction, and at that time we were told that they would draft the Authority-wide policy. It is still a draft policy; we are waiting for the final signed policy by the General Manager to make it official. As of the writing of this article December 19th, it still has not been signed or put into formal policy form.
Now, let's talk about what the union intentions are with the Disciplinary Guidelines Matrix. There is so much misinformation being given out by Management and others to our members that our biggest problem is that we talk about what we think is the policy and how it will be implemented but we really don't know for sure. We are also not doing our due diligence and reading our contracts, operating by the SOP's, and most importantly, reading and knowing the SOP's in order to know how to protect ourselves from unfair rules and regulations. Every Local 689 member has a duty to not become complacent and make sure they know their rights inside and out. Management will push their limits and YOUR job, as a member, is to make sure they are caught when they cross that line!
Right now we need your trust! This new policy is about all 9,500 active members hired by WMATA. This is going to take us educating ourselves about policies and procedures, about WORKING TO THE SOP’s. This is not about the rules. Most of these rules have always been in place. I don’t mean that you should not sign the overtime list or the extra board. I’m asking you to do the job that you were hired to do, by the procedure that is laid out by the Authority, in the SOP’s. I’m asking you to come to the union meeting to get your information and our next actions. WE CAN DO THIS! We have fought Authority-wide policies in the past and we can do so again but it will take us not fighting each other and working in unison to reach a goal.