Quick Guide to Grievances

What’s a Grievance?

Grievances are formal complaints about contract violations.  A grievance is defined in our contract as “a written complaint involving an alleged violation of a specific provision(s) of the Agreement and remedy sought…The primary purpose of this procedure is to secure, at the lowest level possible, equitable solutions to the grievance(s).” Some grievances are more common than you might think. If you find yourself concerned about any of these scenarios, contact the VP for Contract Enforcement and Negotiations at defense@geuatmsu.org. Help protect and enforce your rights!

Common TA Grievances

Minimum Pay Rates: See the minimum amounts guaranteed by our contract.

Workload: Working beyond your appointment fraction without a corresponding bump in pay. The GEU/MSU contract is very specific about the number of hours TAs should be working on their appointment. (The following are maximums.)

  • 10 hours per week for a ¼ time appointment
  • 20 hours per work for a ½ time appointment
  • 30 hours per week for a ¾ time appointment

What counts as work? Any work associated with your assistantship should be included in your workload tally. This means orientations, prep, grading, proctoring exams, office hours, answering student email, staff meetings, and teaching. If you have questions about your workload or what constitutes work under your assistantship, call the Union! You might also use an appointment worksheet to establish expectations in advance. If you suspect you may be being worked beyond your appointment fraction, it would be helpful to have a reliable log of all of the time you spent on your TA appointment.

Teaching Assistants who believe they have worked more hours than the average allowed for by their appointment fraction are encouraged to contact the Union at 517.332.2824 or by email at defense@geuatmsu.org. The contract allows the Union to file overwork grievances up to 30 days after the semester ends.

Appointments All newly appointed and re-appointed employees shall receive a letter of appointment that specifies: title, appointment fraction, effective dates, salary, teaching or work schedule and supervisors name. The reappointment letter shall not contain any language that attaches the offer of employment to funding or budget contingencies. The employing department will notify an employee of a decision to reemploy or not to re-employ as an employee.

How the Grievance Procedure Works

Filing a grievance simply involves contacting administrators to discuss and resolve workplace issues. GEU officers and staff will hear you out, help you decide whether and how to proceed with your grievance, and will attend and help represent you at meetings at each stage of the process. Grievances typically progress through the following steps:

  • Informal Step. Informal meeting with the supervisor and/or other involved parties to try to resolve the issue. The vast majority of grievances are resolved in the informal stage without requiring the formal grievance process. You are entitled to union support and representation at this stage.
  • Step 1. Filing of a formal grievance with the head of the employing unit (Chair, Head, Director, Dean, etc.) no later than 30 days from the date grievant first became aware of the cause of the grievance, explaining the facts of the alleged contract violation. The employing unit designee will meet within 15 days with the grievant and the union representative to search for a mutually satisfying resolution. The VP of Contract Negotiations and Enforcement prepares the written grievance with assistance from GEU staff and the grad employee.
  • Step 2. If Step One failed to reach an agreeable solution, the grievance will be appealed to the Provost within 15 days from receipt of an answer from the employer regarding the meeting at step one. The provost, grievant, and union representative will meet to search for a mutually satisfying resolution.
  • Step 3. If Step Two fails, the grievance shall be appealed for arbitration by a neutral third party within 30 days from receipt of the Step Two answer. The arbitration hearing allows for the hearing of both sides of the grievance. The arbitrator’s decision is final and binding on both parties.

Not Sure You Have A Grievance?

Contact the GEU VP for Contract Negotiations and Enforcement to discuss ANY potential problem. Sometimes you just want someone to hear you out, and that’s OK. We’re here for that too. Sometimes the issue isn’t purely employment related, and that’s OK. We’re here to help you navigate the academic grievance process too. Sometimes the issue doesn’t constitute a formal contract violation, and that’s OK. We’re here to help you figure out remedies outside of the grievance procedure as well.

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