Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) recently lost an arbitration when it unjustly disciplined a food service worker and Teamsters Local 320 member under its Attendance Guidelines.
Local 320 Business Agent Josh Loahr filed the grievance on behalf of the food service worker which eventually led to the arbitration award. The grievant was subjected to SPPS Attendance Guidelines which circumvent the collective bargaining agreement between SPPS and Teamsters Local 320.
Arbitrator James A. Lundberg stated the following:
The Attendance Guidelines, as written and administered, create an incentive for employees to come to work sick. If an employee knows he or she will be disciplined despite exercising sick leave provisions negotiated and incorporated into the collective bargaining agreement, the employee is likely to not exercise the contractual right … The Attendance Guidelines do not establish a disciplinary system that remotely resembles just cause for discipline.
Arbitrator Lundberg added:
The fact that the Attendance Guidelines use “unplanned absences” as a basis for disciplining an employee for exercising sick leave that is provided for under the collective bargaining agreement is completely unreasonable and violates the plain meaning of the collective bargaining agreement at Articles 7 and 18. The Attendance Guidelines, as written, and, as applied, are inherently unjust and may not be used as a basis for disciplining bargaining unit members, whose collective bargaining agreement specifically provides that discipline may only be imposed for just cause.
“This is a major victory for Teamsters Local 320,” says Secretary Treasurer Brian Aldes. “Contract language will always supersede any attendance guidelines that an employer may unilaterally implement, and this arbitration demonstrates how unilateral employer policies can violate workers’ rights.”