It is the declared objective of the parties to encourage the prompt resolution of disputes arising under this Agreement. The parties recognize the importance of prompt and equitable disposition of any complaint at the lowest organizational level possible.
Whatever means are used to resolve a dispute arising under this Agreement, a resolution should be sought that provides fair redress of grievances while giving due consideration to the best interests of schoolchildren.
Any person(s) or the Union shall have the right to present a dispute and have it promptly considered on its merits. Staff covered by this Agreement shall not suffer a loss of pay for time spent in conferring and meeting on a grievance; provided, however, that conferences and meetings will not normally take place during periods when the individuals involved have classroom duties, except as otherwise provided herein. A grievance of a continuing nature alleging that it uniformly affects a class of bargaining unit employees need only be filed once and shall be considered to include all subsequent violations.
Any discipline in relation to collective bargaining unit members shall be for just cause.
A “grievance” shall mean a complaint
(1) that there has been as to a member of the bargaining unit a violation, misinterpretation, or inequitable application of any of the provisions of this agreement or
(2) that a member of the bargaining unit has been treated unfairly or inequitably by reason of any act or condition which is contrary to established policy or practice governing or affecting employees, except that the term “grievance” shall not apply to any matter as to which the Committee is without authority to act. As used in this Article, references to a single employee shall include also a group of employees having the same grievance.
C. Availability of Mediators
The Steering Committee shall choose up to twenty-four (24) employees of the Boston Public School system to be trained as mediators for the system. All persons chosen shall be acceptable to both the Union and the Committee. Employees chosen for this position should have demonstrated excellent interpersonal skills, creativity, and an orientation toward collaborative problem-solving in carrying out their duties in the system. The candidates chosen should as a group be highly representative of the racial and ethnic diversity of the school system. They should receive formal training in problem-solving mediation. Appointments as a mediator should be voluntary. Appointments should be reviewed annually and terminable at the discretion of the Superintendent with or without cause.
These mediators shall be available in addition to their regular duties to confer with employees of the system involved in contract-related disputes on a confidential basis seeking to assist the parties in resolving such difficulties. They may talk in person or by phone. Mediators shall be called on to mediate a building-level discussion of a grievance in Step 1 of the dispute resolution process outlined in the following section. However, no mediator shall mediate a building-level discussion of a grievance that they have previously discussed with an employee, unless all parties to the mediation so request in writing. Mediation will be available for grievances filed at Step 2 or Step 3 if both parties agree.
The School Department will circulate at least annually to all employees a list of mediators and their phone numbers. School Department policy shall be to encourage employees to seek help from a mediator to resolve work-related difficulties informally.
Mediator stipends will be retirement worthy and become part of one’s annualized salary.
D. Dispute Resolution Process for Grievances
Grievances of employees within the bargaining unit shall be presented and adjusted in the following manner:
1. General Procedures
(a) Step 1: School Level
An employee or his or her Union representative may either orally or in writing present a grievance to the Principal, Headmaster, or Director within a reasonable time, normally thirty (30) school days after knowledge by the employee of the facts giving rise to the act or condition which is the basis of her or his grievance.
The Principal, Headmaster, or Director of the school shall confer with the employee at the time of the complaint or within five (5) school days with a view to arrive at a mutually satisfactory resolution of the grievance. At that conference, the employee may present the grievance personally or he or she may be represented by a Union representative; but where the employee is represented, he/she must be present. Whenever a grievance is presented by the employee personally, the Principal, Headmaster, or Director shall give the Union representative the opportunity to be present and state the views of the Union.
The Principal/Headmaster or Director shall communicate his/her decision orally or in writing to the aggrieved employee and to any Union representative who participated in this Step within five (5) school days after receiving the complaint or within five (5) school days after the conference, whichever is earlier.
If the grievance is unresolved, a mediator shall be assigned within three (3) school days to assist the parties in attempting to resolve the complaint. If the dispute is not resolved within three (3) school days following the assignment of a mediator, the grievance may be appealed to the next step.
The parties shall observe the grievance procedure pertaining to Steps 1, 2, and 3 without regard to the mediation process specified herein until the utilization of mediators contemplated by this Agreement is made operational by the School Department and written notice of that implementation is provided to the Union.
(b) Step 2: Cluster Leader or Manager for Employee Relations
If the grievance is not resolved at Step 1, the aggrieved employee or the Union may appeal by forwarding the grievance in writing to the appropriate Cluster Leader within five (5) school days after he or she has received the Step 1 decision. The appeal shall include:
(1) The name and position of the Complainant.
(2) A statement of the grievance and the facts involved.
(3) The corrective action requested.
(4) Name of Union Representative at Step 1; if any.
(5) Signature of each complaining employee or Union r epresentative.
The Cluster Leader will conduct a grievance hearing with the aggrieved employee, and his or her Union representative shall be given at least two (2) school days’ notice of the hearing. The aggrieved employee shall be given the opportunity to be present at the hearing. The Headmaster/Principal or applicable administrator may also be present at this hearing to state his or her views. For grievances filed at step 1, mediators shall not be present at step 2 grievance hearings. For grievances filed at step 2, a mediator shall be used if requested by both parties.
The Cluster Leader shall issue a written decision on the grievance as soon as possible, but not later than ten (10) school days after the receipt of the appeal or five (5) school days after the hearing, whichever is earlier. A copy will be sent to the aggrieved employee and the Union.
The following grievances shall be presented to the Manager for Employee Relations with the procedures and time requirements set forth above:
(1) A grievance alleging that the person was placed on the wrong step of the salary schedule.
(2) A grievance alleging the person’s wages were improperly paid.
(3) A grievance alleging the person was improperly denied an increment.
(4) A grievance alleging the person’s absence deduction was improperly calculated.
(5) A grievance alleging the person was improperly denied a sabbatical leave.
(6) A grievance alleging the person was improperly denied a leave of absence without pay.
(7) A grievance filed on behalf of a person who is not assigned to a level.
(8) A grievance that, by mutual agreement of the Cluster Leader and Union, should be heard directly at Central Administration.
(c) Step 3: Superintendent
A decision at Step 2 may be appealed in writing by the employee or the Union to the Superintendent of Schools within ten (10) school days after the decision by the appropriate administrator at Step 2 has been received. The Superintendent or his or her designated representatives shall meet with the aggrieved employee and the Union representative with a view to arriving at a mutually satisfactory resolution of the complaint. The aggrieved employee and the Union representative will receive at least two (2) school days’ notice of the meeting and shall be given an opportunity to be heard. The Headmaster/Principal or Director and the Cluster Leader or Manager of Employee Relations may also be present at the meeting and state their views.
The Superintendent or her or his designated representatives shall communicate her or his written decision together with supporting reasons to the aggrieved employee and to the Union as soon as possible, but not later than ten (10) school days after receipt of the appeal or five (5) school days after the conference, whichever is earlier.
(d) Alternative Procedure for Certain Grievances
All grievances involving in whole or in part violations of section I(F) of this Agreement, “Handling of New Issues,” shall be submitted to the following procedure in lieu of proceeding through Steps 1 through 3 of the grievance procedure described above. Either party may initiate a grievance in writing by requesting that it be made the subject of a meeting between a representative of the General Counsel’s office and a representative of the Union. The parties shall meet and confer upon the matter within ten (10) school days following the request for a meeting in an attempt to resolve the grievance. If the parties agree on a resolution, they shall reduce this agreement to writing and sign it. The representative of the General Counsel’s office shall be authorized to take appropriate corrective action to redress such grievances. If no agreement is reached within ten (10) school days, nothing in this clause shall affect the rights or either party to proceed to arbitration.
2. Initiation of Grievances at Step 2 or Step 3
(a) Grievances arising from the action of officials other than the Principal, Headmaster, or Director may be initiated with and processed in accordance with the provisions of Step 2 of this dispute resolution process. Where the action is initiated by the Superintendent of Schools, the grievance may be initiated at Step 3.
(b) Conferences held under this procedure at Step 2 or Step 3 shall be conducted at a time and place that will afford a fair and reasonable opportunity for all persons entitled to be present to attend. When such conferences are held during day school hours, all persons who participate shall be excused with pay.
3. Time Limits and Application
(a) The time limits specified in any step of this procedure may be extended in any specific instance, by mutual agreement.
(b) A grievance filed at an inappropriate step of the grievance procedure will be considered as properly filed, but the time limits for answering the complaint shall not begin until the grievance is referred to the appropriate step.
(c) In the event that the immediacy of the grievance requires an employee to meet with his/her Principal or Headmaster suddenly (on a non-scheduled occasion) he/ she shall be allowed to have his/her Union representative present at the meeting, provided he/she first makes this request of the Principal or Headmaster.
(d) A failure by a teacher or the Union to process the grievance from one step to the next step, within the time limits provided for will result in an automatic appeal of the grievance to the next step. A failure of a Committee representative to answer a grievance at any step of the grievance procedure within the time limits provided shall be considered a denial of the grievance at that step.
1. Arbitration Defined
A grievance which was not resolved at Step 3 under the grievance procedure may be submitted by the Union to arbitration. The arbitration may be initiated by filing with the Committee and the American Arbitration Association a request for arbitration. The notice shall be filed within thirty (30) school days after denial of the grievance at Step 3 under the grievance procedure, provided, however, if the Union did not receive a written reply from the Superintendent at Step 3, then said time limit shall be extended to sixty (60) school days after the Step 3 hearing. The voluntary labor arbitration rules of the American Arbitration Association shall apply to the proceeding.
The Union will make a reasonable effort to use no more that two (2) witnesses during the same school hours in arbitration cases.
2. Power of the Arbitrator
Notwithstanding anything to the contrary, no dispute or controversy shall be a subject for arbitration unless it involves the meaning, interpretation, or application of an express provision of this Agreement. The arbitrator shall have no power to alter, add to, subtract from, or modify any provision of this Agreement. The parties are agreed that no restrictions are intended on the powers of the Committee except those set forth in the language of this Agreement.
3. Decision of the Arbitrator
The arbitrator shall issue his/her written decision not later than thirty (30) days from the date of the close of the hearings or, if oral hearings have been waived, then from the date of transmitting the final statements and proofs to the arbitrator. The decision of the arbitrator will be accepted as final by the parties to the dispute and both will abide by it.
4. Arbitration Award Application
The Committee agrees that it will apply to all substantially similar situations the decision of an arbitrator sustaining a grievance and the Union agrees that it will not bring or continue, and that it will not represent any employee in any grievance which is substantially similar to a grievance denied by the decision of the arbitrator. The arbitrator’s fee will be shared equally by the parties to the dispute.
5. Alternate Arbitration Procedure
Notwithstanding any contrary provision of this Article, unresolved grievances at Step 3 may be submitted by the Union to a closed panel of arbitrators and not the American Arbitration Association, under an alternate arbitration procedure mutually agreed between the parties.
6. Staffing Clause
Notwithstanding any contrary provision of this Agreement, no provision of this Agreement shall be deemed to require the School Committee to hire any particular number or kind of teachers or other personnel or to maintain any level of staffing, nor shall any arbitrator have the power to order the hiring of any kind or number of teachers or other personnel as a consequence of any violation of this Agreement. This provision shall not be deemed to restrict any arbitrator from ordering the reinstatement of any employee in any case dealing with the question of just cause for dismissal.
The Committee will use its best efforts to implement a settlement agreement or an arbitrator’s award within 30 days after approval of such settlement or receipt of such award and determination not to contest it.
Such efforts shall include, but not be limited to, establishment of a payment system under which specified employees of the School Department are to be held accountable for compliance with this section.
F. Resolution of Differences by Peaceful Means
The Union and Committee agree that differences between the parties shall be settled by peaceful means as provided within this Agreement. The Union, in consideration of the value of this Agreement and its terms and conditions and the Legislation which engendered it, will not engage in, instigate, or condone any strike, work stoppage, or any concerted refusal to perform normal work duties on the part of any employee covered by this Agreement.