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Successfully Navigating the Grievance and Arbitration Process in the Public Sector

Gain perspectives from an employer’s advocate and an arbitrator regarding the evidence necessary to evaluate a grievance. Learn how to determine appropriate action under a collective bargaining agreement. Focus on maintaining proper documentation, conducting an effective investigation, securing other relevant evidence and better understanding how evidence may be weighed in arbitration. Address the unique challenges of the public sector, and focus on specific problems that arise for public sector employers.

This class has been approved for 13.25 general credit hours toward PHR, SPHR and GPHR recertification.

This class has been pre-approved by the Society for Human Resource Management for 14 Professional Development Credits (PDCs) towards the SHRM-SCP or SHRM-CP.

This course can be applied to the Labor Relations Certificate.

Who Should Attend

Specifically geared toward public sector employers including municipal, county and state governments

A must for supervisory personnel, department human resource managers, and personnel administrators called upon to review a grievance in the steps up to and including arbitration

Benefits and Learning Outcomes

  • Recognize the evidence necessary to evaluate a grievance and determine appropriate action under a collective bargaining agreement
  • Learn to maintain proper documentation, conduct an effective investigation and secure other relevant evidence
  • Better understand how evidence may be weighed in arbitration, including when just cause is required

Course Outline/Topics

Program Agenda

Day One: 8:30am-Noon

Introduction to unions

  • Common reasons why employees join a union in the public sector
  • The role that unions play for public sector employees
  • The supervisor’s role in union relations
  • The union steward – the proper role
  • An employee’s right to union representation – understanding the Supreme Court’s “Loudermill” decision

Labor and employment discrimination laws every supervisor should know

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1991
  • The Age Discrimination in the Employment Act
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act
  • State Workers’ Compensation Laws
  • State Laws regarding Collective Bargaining

Day One: 1-4pm

Knowing and understanding all of the rules

  • Administering the union contract while maintaining productivity
  • Past Practice – what is, what isn’t, what can you do about it?
  • Conducting an effective investigation
  • Employee discipline
    – Making it stick
  • Special considerations in the public sector
  • Case study


Day Two: 8:30-11:30am

The grievance process and arbitration in the public sector

  • What is the purpose of the grievance process?
    – Discovery
    – Reaching settlement
  • What is Arbitration and how is it different from a trial?
    – Format
    – Binding nature
  • Effective contract administration – how to avoid going to arbitration
  • Living with one another: developing a non-confrontational relationship
  • Avoiding unnecessary grievances
  • Effective use of the grievance procedure
  • Alternatives to arbitration
  • Differences in the grievance process between the private and public sector

What the arbitrator looks for

  • Disputes over employee discipline
  • Disputes over contract language
  • Some common issues which frequently arise at arbitration
    – Past practice on contract interpretation
    – Making sure the penalty fits the crime
    – Credibility issues
    – Language of the contract
    – Language of limitation

Winning arbitration strategies

  • Preparation for arbitration – winning your case before the hearing starts
  • Testifying at the arbitration hearing
  • How the arbitrator really decides cases

Special considerations in the public sector

  • Who is paying the bills
  • Political issues
  • Other non-economic issues

Day Two: 12:15-3:30pm

You are the arbitrator!

This portion of the class is an informal, interactive program in which actual cases are discussed. Engage in analysis of these cases and make attempts to determine the appropriate outcome, based on the knowledge gained during the program, as well as your experience in the field. Participants are placed into teams to discuss and resolve these cases.

Dates and locations to be announced.