Proper Conduct of Grievance Administration

DEPARTMENT OF ADMINISTRATIVE & FINANCIAL SERVICES
Bureau of Employee Relations
Telephone (207) 287-4447
FAX (207) 287-4452 TDD (207) 287-4537

No.: OSER-12

Date: February 24, 1976

SUBJECT: Proper Conduct of Grievance Administration

TO: Department and Agency Heads

FROM: Lanning S. Mosher, Director

The Maine State Employees Association recently filed a complaint with the Maine Labor Relations Board on behalf of a State employee, alleging that a State department and its supervisory personnel had committed an unfair labor practice by discriminating against that employee because he had filed a grievance in accordance with 5 MRSA, Section 751, et seq. Following a thorough investigation of the facts, and after discussion with the employee's designated representatives, it was agreed by the parties that the complaint would be withdrawn and that this OSER bulletin would be distributed.

Because of the fine distinction which sometimes exists between permissible and improper or illegal action by State managerial and supervisory personnel-, and because of the sincere desire of the State to comply with the State Employees Labor Relations Act and avoid unnecessary prohibited practice complaints, the following amplification upon guidelines contained in previous OSER bulletins is being distributed.

Managerial and supervisory personnel have an obligation to avoid interfering with employees' rights to engage in employee organization activities provided by the State Employees Labor Relations Act. To this end the supervisor must have a thorough understanding of employee rights and must be fully aware of 'the actions prohibited by the State Employees Labor Relations Act. Please review, in particular, OSER Bulletin 5 and Sections 979-B and 979-C of the Act (attached). In all dealings with employee representatives and in all personnel actions, supervisory and managerial personnel have a responsibility to ensure that their actions are in accordance with the guidelines distributed by this office and do not constitute prohibited practices as outlined in the attached material.

IMPORTANT BULLETIN - TO BE RETAINED IN EMPLOYEE RELATIONS MANUAL

Specifically:

A. No action should be taken which could be misconstrued as retaliation for exercise of employee rights, e.g., the filing of grievances or participation in union activities. You cannot threaten to take disciplinary action or lay off an employee because he has filed a grievance or participates in proper employee organization activities; nor can you promise or give favorable treatment to an employee for refraining to engage in the proper exercise of his rights to participate in employee organization activities.

B. Any action which may be interpreted as an attempt to persuade an employee organization not to represent an employee in grievance proceedings should be avoided. In discussing grievances with employee organization representatives, you may express your views on the merits of a grievance, even state that you think that the grievance is a waste of their time, but you cannot take action which interferes with the employee's right to process his or her grievance.

This is not a directive to ignore your management responsibility or to avoid taking necessary and appropriate actions. However, any supervisor or member of management who is required to take action in a situation which he believes may be questioned as complying with the law is encouraged to consult with this office before taking such-action.

Attachment

STATE EMPLOYEES LABOR RELATIONS ACT

Section 979-B. Right of State employees to join labor organizations.

No one shall directly or indirectly interfere with, intimidate, restrain, coerce or discriminate against State employees or a group of State employees in the free exercise of their rights, hereby given, voluntarily to join, form and participate in the activities of organizations of their own choosing for the purposes of representation and collective bargaining, or in the free exercise of any other right under this chapter.

Section 979-C. Prohibited acts of the public employer.

1. Public employer prohibitions. The public employer, its representatives and agents are prohibited from:

A. Interfering with, restraining or coercing employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in Section 979-B;

B. Encouraging or discouraging membership in any employee organization by discrimination in regard to hire or tenure of employment or any term or condition of employment;

C. Dominating or interfering with the formation, existence or administration of any employee organization;

D. Discharging or otherwise discriminating against an employee because he has signed or filed any affidavit, petition or complaint or given any information or testimony under this chapter;

E. Refusing to bargain collectively with the bargaining agent of its employees as required by Section 979-D;

F. Blacklisting of any employee organization or its members for the purpose of denying them employment.


STATE OF MAINE

INTER-DEPARTMENTAL
MEMORANDUM

Bureau of Employee Relations
State House Sta. #79
Augusta, ME 04333

Tel. (207) 287-4447
FAX (207) 287-4452
TDD (207) 287-4537

March 22, 1976

TO: All Holders of OSER Manuals

FROM: Lanning S. Mosher, Director, State Employee Relations

SUBJECT: Notice to All State Employees Threatened Illegal Strike

Enclosed with this memorandum is a notice to all State employees which should be posted on bulletin boards in work locations to ensure that all employees have an opportunity to read it as soon as possible.

We have distributed this to all holders of our manuals rather than distributing it exclusively to agency heads to minimize the time necessary to reach all State employees.

We do not believe that State employees, the large majority of them, are interested in strike, sick-out or other illegal concerted activity at this time, and hope that no such action will occur.

LSM:b
Enc.
cc: Governor Longley

STATE OF MAINE

INTER-DEPARTMENTAL
MEMORANDUM

Bureau of Employee Relations
State House Sta. #79
Augusta, ME 04333

Tel. (207) 287-4447
FAX (207) 287-4452
TDD (207) 287-4537

TO: All State Employees

FROM: Lanning S. Mosher, Director, State Employee Relations

SUBJECT: Threatened Illegal Strike

IMPORTANT NOTICE TO EMPLOYEES

There is much talk of a strike of State employees despite Maine employees' well-deserved and pre-eminent reputation for service to the public. While I am confident that State employees will stay at their posts during this time of stress, as they have in the past, this notice briefly outlines the provisions of Maine State law applicable to illegal strike activity so that you may protect yourself against actions which would inadvertently place you in violation of the law.

The State Employees Labor Relations Act prohibits any, public employee or employee organization from engaging in or causing, instigating, encouraging or condoning a strike. Section 979-C of Title 26 of the Maine State law specifically states "State employee organizations, their agents, members and bargaining agents are prohibited from engaging in a work stoppage, a slowdown or a strike." The law further states "violations of this section shall be processed by the board in the manner provided in Section 979-H." Employees and employee organizations who participate in strikes or other job actions subject themselves to possible legal proceedings, including injunctions and contempt proceedings and disciplinary action, including possible discharge.

Additionally, Personnel Rule 11.4 provides that any employee absent without leave for three consecutive working days is deemed to have resigned.

Effective immediately, and until further notice, all approved use of sick and/or vacation credits is hereby cancelled. Effective immediately no employee shall be authorized the use of leave credits without specific written approval of his or her particular appointing authority or designee. All employees who call in sick are hereby advised that they may be required to produce a medical statement from a qualified physician indicating the absence (1) is based on personal examination of patient during period of illness, (2) was due to objectively observable and measurable symptoms, or (3) was essential to the patient's health.

In the event of an employee action, staff members are expected to cross a picket line to report to work.

Employees may be required to work overtime in order to provide necessary institutional coverage.

This notice is written with the sincere hope that the public will not be harmed by any employee work action. I hope that the crisis which prompted this memo will soon be over so that we can return to standard personnel procedures.

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