General Grievance Policy for Librarians
DISCLAIMER: If there is a discrepancy between this electronic policy and the written copy held by the Policy owner, the written copy prevails.
Professional librarians and library management support positive working relations through communication and collaboration. In recognition that a mechanism is required to address disputes, this policy provides librarians with prompt, objective and impartial adjudication of disputes that affect their employment relationship. Every effort should be made by the librarian and supervisor to resolve the issue through informal means before resorting to a written grievance. Open and prompt discussion of dispu tes facilitates a productive and positive work environment.
It is expected that decisions made by the library administrations, librarians and Hearing Committees will be fair, reasonable and just to both the librarian and the Library. These attributes are best attained through due consideration of policy, operational needs, individual circumstances, timing, consistency, and a clear and documented understanding of the facts.
A grievance is a complaint by one or more librarians (identified as the “Grievor” throughout this policy) who have reason to believe that a duly enacted written policy or established practice affecting their employment relationship has been unfairly applied. Excluded from the grievance policy are matters relating to salary and benefits. Also excluded are matters for which specific appeal procedures have been or may be established, e.g., position classification.
The policy applies to all librarians holding an appointment as a professional librarian, whether continuing or temporary, in the McMaster University Library System. Grievances from librarians working through the employment probationary period or from librarians with a temporary appointment of less than 12 months may not proceed beyond Stage Three.
INITIATING A GRIEVANCE
The Grievor presents a written grievance to the person at the first administrative level having authority to dispose of the grievance (normally her or his supervisor) or the Chair of the Committee responsible for the grieved action, within 10 working days¹ after the Grievor knows, or ought reasonably to have known, the grounds for the grievance. This person shall be known as the Primary Respondent. The written grievance will outline the facts of the grievance, identify the policy in question and state the remedy sought.
ADVICE TO GRIEVORS
A librarian who wishes to pursue a grievance may apply to the Chair of the Special Enquiries and Grievances Committee of the Faculty Association, or nominee, for advice regarding the grievance procedure and for assistance in formulating and pursuing the complaint.
At any stage in the grievance procedure, by mutual agreement of the parties, a colleague or a Human Resources Administrator may be asked to mediate informally and in confidence. The Mediator must be acceptable to both parties, hear both sides of the disp ute, is not privy to any information not known to both parties, and remains impartial. The Mediator may not subsequently be a member of the tribunal that hears the case at the formal stage. Mediation may extend the duration of the stage at which it occurs by 10 working days.
STAGES OF THE GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE
Stage One: Upon receipt of the written grievance, the administrator or Chair of the Committee responsible for the decision (Primary Respondent) shall arrange to discuss the grievance with the librarian. The Respondent shall respond to the Grievor in writing within 10 working days following receipt of the grievance.
Stage Two: If the grievance is not resolved under Stage One to the Grievor’s satisfaction, the Grievor may within 10 working days of receipt of the response at Stage One, present the same written grievance, along with any elaboration by the G rievor and the response from Stage One, to the Primary Respondent’s supervisor or administrator responsible for the Committee’s work. Following discussion of the grievance with the Grievor, the Respondent at this stage shall respond to the Grievor in writing within 10 working days following receipt of the grievance at Stage Two.
Stage Three: If the grievance is not resolved under Stage Two to the Grievor’s satisfaction, the Grievor may within 10 working days of receipt of the response at Stage Two, present the material from Stage Two along with any elaboration by the Grievor and the response from Stage Two, to the next level of administration. Following discussion of the grievance with the Grievor, the Respondent at this stage shall respond to the Grievor in writing within 10 working days following receipt of the grievance at Stage Three.
Stage Four: Grievance Hearing: If the grievance is not resolved under Stage Three to the Grievor’s satisfaction, the Grievor may within 10 working days of receipt of the response at Stage Three, file with the Secretary of the Senate a request for a formal hearing. The request shall contain the original written grievance statement, any written elaborations by the Grievor and responses from all previous Stages. Request forms and assistance are available from the Senate Office.
GENERAL PROCEDURES FOR STAGES ONE THROUGH THREE
The Grievor may select a colleague or adviser to accompany her or him in any meetings with the Administration under this policy.
If the University Librarian or Director of Health Sciences Library and Computing Services is grieved at Stage One, the Respondent at Stage Two, if required, would be the Provost and Vice-President (Academic), or the Dean and Vice-President (Health Sciences).
If the University Librarian or Director of Health Sciences Library and Computing Services or Provost and Vice-President (Academic) or Dean and Vice-President (Health Sciences) is the Respondent at Stage Two, and the Grievor is not satisfied by the response, the Grievor may proceed to Stage Four. All grievances will be reviewed through at least two stages before a hearing may be requested. The third stage may not be appropriate in all cases due to the number of reporting levels within the organization structure.
A Grievor who fails to meet a time limit loses the right to proceed to the next stage. If a Respondent fails to meet a time limit, the Grievor shall have the right to proceed to the next stage. All time limits under this policy may be extended by mutual written agreement between the Grievor and the current Respondent. The Grievor may withdraw a grievance at any stage.
GRIEVANCE HEARING COMMITTEE
The Hearing Committee will be composed of three members: the Chair of the Faculty Grievance Panel who will act as Chair, and one member nominated by the Grievor and one by the Primary Respondent, selected as described in the GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURES FOR LIBRARIAN GENERAL GRIEVANCE HEARINGS . The individuals named shall be chosen to have no conflict of interest relating to the individuals involved or to the decision being grieved and will agree to serve on the Committee should their names be selected.
FACULTY ASSOCIATION OBSERVER
With the consent of the Grievor and the Respondent, the Faculty Association shall be entitled to have an Observer at a hearing under this policy. The function of the Observer shall be to monitor the conduct of the formal hearing in accordance with this policy and the GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURES FOR LIBRARIAN GENERAL GRIEVANCE HEARINGS. If a Faculty Association Observer is present, the Grievance Committee shall satisfy itself that the Grievor and the Respondent consent to the pres ence of the Observer. Guidelines for the appointment and conduct of the Observer are documented in APPENDIX A, GUIDELINES CONCERNING THE APPOINTMENT AND DEPORTMENT OF MUFA OBSERVERS AT LIBRARIAN GENERAL GRIEVANCE HEARINGS.
Rules and procedures for grievance hearings are listed in the document entitled GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURES FOR LIBRARIAN GENERAL GRIEVANCE HEARINGS.
¹Working days are defined as Monday through Friday excluding University specified holidays and days when the individual required to take action is absent from the University.
Approved by the Board of Governors
March 27, 2002