UPI/WIU GRIEVANCE GUIDE
One of most important rights guaranteed in the UPI/WIU Agreement is the right to grieve alleged
violations of this contract. This booklet contains the answers to the most commonly asked
questions about the grievance process and discusses the basic facts that you will need to know
about grievances. When in doubt about a situation, it is safest to discuss it with your Chapter
Union Grievance Officer or Chapter President. This booklet is designed as an easy-to-read guide
to the grievance process, but no information contained here supersedes the UPI/WIU Agreement.
The reader is urged to closely read Article 6 of the UPI/WIU Agreement in addition to this guide.
What is a grievance?
A grievance is any alleged violation of any provision of the UPI/WIU contract (Agreement) that
we have at Western Illinois University. It may also be any dispute concerning the interpretation of
the UPI/WIU Agreement.
What are the most common grievances?
The most common grievance categories include:
Personnel: You are entitled to fair and professional evaluations when you are evaluated for
retention, tenure, promotion, sabbatical leave, Professional Achievement Award (PAA), and so
on. However, at any point in the process, please call the Chapter Union Grievance Officer for
guidance. Note: You cannot grieve the DPC's, the chair's, the dean's, or the UPC's evaluation of
you. (However, you can often ask for reconsideration of these evaluations.) A negative decision
is not grievable until (and unless) the President, or in the case of tenure, the Board of Trustees,
turns you down. The best defense against this is to submit as strong a portfolio as possible.
Associate Faculty are only evaluated by the chair and the dean, and in the case of a negative
decision have the right to an appeals committee.
Work load: You are entitled to a fair and reasonable work load, as specified in the UPI/WIU
Agreement. (On the other hand, the administration can often claim "program need" in making an
apparently unfair assignment.) The assignment of ACE's [Academic Credit Equivalents] and
Additional Workload Equivalents must also be fair and reasonable and realistically reflect your
time and effort, in accordance with past practices and a published set of ACE guidelines. You
have the contractual right to give input and to be consulted about your workload.
Summer Employment: Every department has an established summer rotation policy. If you
desire summer work, it must be in accordance with your department's policy. If you desire to
teach in summer, you must notify your chair in writing early in the fall term, according to the
published timetable. (Note: As with workloads, a dean or chair may claim "program need" in
making assignments; that is, they can determine what courses to offer, but not which of qualified
faculty should teach them -- that is governed by the summer rotation. Furthermore, the union is
always insistent that the program need be valid.)
Re-employment of Associate Faculty: Associate Faculty on the Seniority List (based on
evaluations and seniorities) get preference for temporary employment over those not on the roster
and those below them on the roster. (Reminder: Associate Faculty in their first five years of
employment in the UPI bargaining unit must inform their chair by February 15th if they wish re-
employment for the next academic year.)
Academic Support Professionals (ASP's): Every ASP must be given an annual job description,
which describes his/her duties and responsibilities as well as the materials and methods used for
his/her evaluation. Further, any changes in the assigned duties must be noted in a written
modification of the annual job description. Every ASP is entitled to a fair and professional
evaluation of his/her performance based on the procedures described in the annual job
description. You have the contractual right to give input and be consulted about your work load.
Personnel file: You should check your personnel file at least once a year. You have a right to
attach a rejoinder (or rebuttal) to any material in the file. There can be only one personnel file;
secret files of any kind are not allowed.
Other: There are other possible areas of violation: sick leave, salary, sanctions, facilities, and so
on. Also, many problems that arise are technically not grievances, but may be resolved by other
informal means. Check with your Union Chapter Grievance Officer for his/her interpretation of the
Are there things that we cannot grieve or ask for in a grievance?
We cannot grieve the actions of other bargaining unit members (for instance, negative DPC or
UPC recommendations or actions of nasty colleagues); we can grieve only the actions of the
administration. We cannot seek an apology as a remedy. We cannot seek punitive damages as
remedies. We cannot file grievances on behalf of the students or non-bargaining unit members.
We will not take a grievance that does not have a remedy. (For example, suppose a faculty is
not retained, finds a new job, but still wants to grieve just "for revenge"; UPI would not take this
case, since the grievant does not want his/her job back, which is the only remedy). In addition,
we cannot ask as a remedy that other bargaining unit members be sanctioned or penalized. As
mentioned above, always check with your Union Chapter Grievance Officer.
Who can file a grievance?
Any member of the bargaining units represented by UPI:
Unit A: Tenured and tenure-track faculty;
Unit B: Academic Support Professionals and Associate Faculty.
Must I be a member of the union to file a grievance?
No. All bargaining unit members (with or without union membership) are protected by the
UPI/WIU Agreement and are entitled to grieve any violations.
What are the steps involved in the grievance process?
If you feel you have been subjected to unfair treatment (in violation of the contract), you should
consider filing a grievance. This grievance will consist of some or all of the following steps:
Preliminary Step: Your first step should be to contact your Union Chapter Grievance
Representative as soon as possible. There is a 40 calendar day limit; if you delay over 40
calendar days in filing the grievance, you lose your right to grieve, no matter how meritorious
your case is. Beware: Administrators often claim they will help solve your problem and will
discourage you from filing a grievance. Please note that the 40 calendar day grievance clock is
still ticking, and their promise of help will not extend the time limit.
Often during this 40-day period, you and/or the Chapter Union Grievance Officer can resolve the
problem informally. Sometimes it may turn out that your situation represents a problem that is
not covered in the contract, and hence is not grievable. [For instance, we cannot make your
colleagues or chair be nice to you; we cannot make departments rehire Associate Faculty where
no need exists; we cannot make your chair give you a 10:00 class instead of an 11:00 class;
and so on.] In these cases, the Union Chapter Grievance Officer will discourage the filing of the
grievance. Please accept his/her judgment as a realistic reading of the situation and not
insensitivity to your problem. Often another approach can rectify the situation.
Every grievance begins with a complaint. But not every complaint rises to the level of a
grievance. If the problem does represent a true violation of the contract and cannot be resolved
quickly, a grievance should be filed. And even after the grievance is filed, informal resolution is
Step 1: If your problem appears to represent a genuine violation that cannot be resolved
informally, you or the Union Chapter Grievance Officer will file your grievance with the Academic
Vice President or his/her designee. [A member of the bargaining unit may file an independent
grievance and choose not to be represented by the union at Step 1.] At the time that the
grievance is initiated the Union Chapter Grievance Officer and the University Grievance Officer
will attempt to achieve an informal resolution.
The grievant will be contacted and a meeting will be scheduled with the Union Chapter Grievance
Officer, the grievant, the University Grievance Officer, and the Academic Vice President (or
his/her designee) no later than 30 days following the receipt of the grievance. Also, during this
time, the Union (or the grievant, if representing him/herself) may request an extension of an
additional 30 days to seek an informal resolution of the problem. If such a request is made, a
30 day postponement shall be granted. This postponement may be terminated at any time and
the grievance process will resume.
The Academic Vice President (or designee) must issue a written decision on the grievance no
later than 30 calendar days following the conclusion of the meeting.
Step 2: If there is no acceptable resolution at the Step 1 level [and often there is not], the
Union Chapter Grievance Officer, upon request of the grievant, may file a written request for a
review by a Step 2 Hearing Panel within 30 calendar days following the receipt of the Step 1
Grievances at Step 2 will be reviewed by a three-person panel consisting of: one Unit A or B
employee selected by the Union President; one University employee selected by the
Administration; and the University President.
The Union Chapter Grievance Representative shall schedule a hearing no later than 30 days
following the panel’s request for review. The University President shall issue his/her decision,
after hearing recommendations from the other panel members, no later than 30 calendar days
following the conclusion of the hearing.
Step 3: If your problem is still not resolved at Step 2, the Union may take the case to Step 3
[binding arbitration] by filing a notice of intent with the University President within 30 calendar
days of the receipt of the Step 2 decision. Arbitration requires arduous preparation and is often
a one or two day legal hearing before a neutral arbitrator. Not all grievances are strong enough
to stand up to this legal scrutiny, in terms of arguments, documents, and witnesses. Therefore,
sometimes even cases with some merit may not be taken to arbitration. [This decision may also
be appealed.] We do not win all our arbitrations, but we have had some remarkable successes
in winning favorable awards at this step. It is important to plead critical cases to keep the
administration aware of our vigilance.
Like any legal proceeding, arbitrations contain an element of uncertainty. No case [yours
included, unfortunately] is a sure winner, no matter what anyone may tell you [particularly people
without complete knowledge of all of the facts of the case and a thorough knowledge of the
UPI/WIU Agreement]. An arbitration tends to be a “winner take all” proposition; as such, it is
often better for both sides to attempt to reach a mutually agreed upon settlement. Furthermore,
arbitrations tend to focus on very technical points of the Agreement; as such, they should not be
viewed as a forum for “exposing administrative incompetence” or “getting revenge” as grievants
sometimes expect. [Note: the authority of the arbitrator is limited by the contract. The arbitrator
cannot substitute his/her judgment for the academic judgment of an administrator.]
If I don’t want UPI to represent me, can I represent myself in the
Yes and No. A bargaining unit member may file a grievance and represent him/herself at a
Step 1 hearing. UPI, however, is entitled to have an observer at this hearing. If there is no
satisfactory resolution at Step 1, the grievant may file for a Step 2 hearing. However, at this
point in law, UPI now “owns” the grievance and will decide how far to pursue it. However, the
grievant preserves the right to withdraw the grievance at any time.
When must the grievance be filed?
A grievance clock starts ticking as soon as you know, or reasonably should have known, that
there is a problem [e.g., receiving a letter from the President denying you retention, tenure,
promotion, or PAA; receiving a memo from your Chair informing you of an unreasonable
schedule; receiving a paycheck with an incorrect amount; and so on]. Once the clock starts, you
have 40 calendar days in which to file the grievance; after this time, the grievance is barred.
The clock keeps ticking even if an administrator is trying to help you. If in doubt, file first and
continue to try for a settlement.
How can I help the Union Chapter Grievance Officer in my case?
Probably the most important thing you can do is to have [or obtain] all the documents that the
Union Chapter Grievance Officer needs to build his/her case: the non-retention letter from the
President, your workload assignment, a summer school rotation list and policy, your Departmental
Criteria, a threatening memo from your chair, and so on.
May I consult a lawyer while my grievance is pending?
Yes, you may talk to a lawyer of your choosing, but at your own expense. However, it is often
the case that grievants get bad advice from their lawyers who may be very well versed in real
estate law, patent law, personal injury law, etc., but not in labor law. Generally, you are better
served letting the Union Chapter Grievance Officer and Local Grievance Officers give you the
appropriate advice. UPI has its own labor lawyers, and the Union Grievance Officers consult with
them whenever necessary at no cost to the grievant.
Can I file suit in court regarding the problem?
You can always file a suit in civil court; however, you may lose your right to grieve through the
union. According to the UPI/WIU Agreement, if you pursue the issue in any other forum, the
administration need not deal with the grievance any further. However, if you feel that you have
been the victim of some form of discrimination [age, race, gender, religion, handicap, etc.], you
may choose to file a concurrent complaint with the EEOC and/or the Illinois Human Rights
Commission [their “clock” is 180 days]. Filing a suit with the EEOC does not cancel the
grievance and the two suits can proceed simultaneously. In general, you should consult your
Union Chapter Grievance Officer first.
Can the University punish me for filing a grievance?
No. There is a “no reprisal” clause in the UPI/WIU Agreement. In fact, once a grievance is
filed the administration should make a special effort to show that their treatment of the employee
is not any harsher than any previous treatment. The administration’s retaliating against an
employee for any legitimate union activity would be an unfair labor practice. The union would
file a charge based on retaliation with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. The
Board has the right to order that WIU stop the unfair practice.
Will UPI ever drop a grievance once it has been filed?
Yes. Sometimes, UPI feels that the administration has sufficiently remedied the problem. In this
case, UPI will withdraw the grievance. Sometimes the administration has offered a reasonable
resolution to the problem. In this case UPI will recommend that the grievant accept the offer or
we will withdraw the grievance. Sometimes, UPI will feel that a grievance has very little chance
of prevailing. In this case, UPI will also withdraw the grievance. In any of these cases, the
grievant will be notified of UPI’s decision and the decision may be appealed.
Withdrawing a grievance is often a very difficult situation. Filing the grievance itself is usually the
result of some problem, and the grievant feels him/herself hurt by administrative caprice and/or
vindictiveness. At the same time, the Union Grievance Officers tend to have a more objective
view of the situation.
Can a grievant protest UPI’s decision to withdraw a grievance?
Yes. If the grievance is still at the Step 1 stage, the grievant can pursue the grievance
him/herself. If the grievance is at the Step 2 or 3 stage, the grievant may notify the UPI 4100
President [at 11 E Adams, Suite 1106, Chicago, IL 60603] of a desire to appeal the decision.
An appeals committee will be appointed to hear the appeal. The burden will be on the grievant
to show in a clear and convincing manner that the decision of the Union Grievance Officers was
wrong and that the case would win at Step 2 or Step 3.
How successful is UPI in the grievance process?
Like most things in life, we win some and we lose some. However, we have reached satisfactory
resolutions in a majority of the grievances. But even the losses are important, since they remind
the University and its Board of our vigilance and our desire to protect the rights of the bargaining
unit. Also, many of our cases end with a win-win settlement in which both the grievant and the
administration are satisfied with the outcome.
WIU grievance handbook
UPI/WIU Agreement 2007-2011