(This was originally in the SJ Area Local Newsletter of February 2019. Written by: Frank Bollinger)
Adverse Actions Against Members by Management: I want to take the time to talk a little bit about how to handle things when management is looking to or has taken an adverse action against you.
Pre-Disciplinary Interview aka Investigative Interview: I know we seem to mention this quite a bit but it still doesn’t sink in for everybody. This is the initial step anytime management is looking to take an adverse action against you except for Emergency Placement/Procedures and Letters of Demand. I cannot stress enough the importance of having a representative from the Union present during this part. There are procedures that must be following along every step of the disciplinary process and this is just the first of many. As some of you may realize, there are times when our only argument to mitigate any discipline is based upon procedural errors by management. Without having us present at a PDI or I&I you are tying at least one hand behind our backs in our fight to protect you.
The above holds true when the Inspection Service or the OIG wants to interview you.
Issuance of an Action by Management: The day that management issues any adverse action to you is the start of the 14-day clock for us to grieve the action. This is true with Emergency Placements/Procedures as well as Letters of Demand. So, what should you do when this happens? Contact your Steward/Rep immediately. If you are still at work on the clock, then as they hand you whatever type of action immediately tell them you want to be released to your Steward/Rep. They have a reasonable amount of time to release you, in the past it has been agreed that if they cannot release you within 2 hours that they will let you know the reason and also when they expect to be able to release you. If they do not release you by the end of your shift, they should release you immediately at the beginning of your next shift without any further delay. Of course, if you are placed onto EP or issued a removal, chances are you may not be on the clock. Still contact your Steward/Rep immediately. If you work at the P&DC then you can call the Stewards’ Office @ (856) 933 – 4193. If you have difficulty getting a hold of someone at that number you can call the Local’s office @ (856) 228 – 8090. If you work at an A.O. (APO, RMPO, Station, etc…) you can either contact your steward at your respective office or you can call the Local’s office.
When you contact us, we will ask you for a copy of the action taken against you by management. Sometimes this is multiple pages. Please, if it is multiple pages do not just send us a copy of the front page. critical information may be contained on the other pages. Because of this it is easier and quicker if you send us every page so that we may start formulating your defense. If you would like, you could also send us a preliminary statement of the facts as you know them at the same time you send a copy of the action.
Remember, you/we have 14 days from your receipt of the action to file the step 1. This doesn’t mean everything is good if you inform us of the action on the 12th, 13th or 14th day. This has happened!!! We have to review the information you provide, then draft Official Requests for Information when necessary and some of these will be requesting interviews besides the standard documentation. Management should respond as soon as possible but technically has approximately 5 days to respond to these requests. So, if you inform us of the action late in the game there is no way possible to present a defense for you that is as good as it would be if we had the appropriate amount of time. Of course, we will still do our best and present the strongest defense that we can for you.
Lastly, be available. We may need to contact you along the way as things come up in your case. Maybe we will have an interview that revealed some information not previously known by us, possibly management presents a statement in the case that we have to review with you for its accuracy. Whatever the case may be your part in your case does not end when you give us a copy of the action by management.
Hopefully for many of you this information will not have to be used personally because you will not have an adverse action taken against you by management but for anyone that unfortunately does, please remember all of the above.