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UPSEU Wins Three (3) Day Suspension Arbitration Case For Springfield Unit Vice President
Posted On: Jun 07, 2019
Springfield Unit Vice President Tim Woodward was wrongly issued a three-day suspension after he discovered what appeared to be a violation of the collective bargaining agreement, which resulted in a loss of overtime opportunities for members in his department. He immediately addressed the labor matter with his fellow members and management. He was passionate about the situation and raised his voice while addressing the issue. The City accused him of disrupting the office and gave him a three-day suspension on October 12, 2017. UPSEU had filed a separate grievance in regards to the lost overtime, and the union and the City reached a settlement on that part of the issue but not on the three day suspension. After going through the contractual steps, the suspension case went before an arbitrator in January 2019 (after numerous delays by the City.
Union attorney Lan Kantany presented the union’s case, assisted by Labor Relations Representative Roger Stolen and Unit President Sylvia Cotton. The Union argued that the unit vice president had the right to address such an important labor matter immediately and had the right to address the issue in the open office. The arbitrator ruled that there was no disruption to the office due to the fact that the work was all completed without any delay and that there were no members of the public present, as the City claimed. The City also claimed that his use of loud and vulgar language (“B*&?S?*!”) was part of the reason for the suspension. The arbitrator ruled that his words were legally-protected speech. Attorney Kantany stated that “there were a lot of factual disputes in this case where it was evident to the Union that the City was misrepresenting the alleged disruption Mr. Woodward caused. I am glad that the arbitrator agreed with us and that while labor discussions can get tense and confrontational, bargaining unit members and officers are still entitled to legally-protected speech.”
This was a great win for all unions because the arbitrator supported the legal rights of union officers to address important work place issues without fear of management retaliation.
The Unit President Sylvia Cotton said, “I am very happy to have this win for our UPSEU team. It goes to show that we work hard to get our members what they deserve. This is an example of yet another UPSEU victory. Great Job!”