Role of the Delegate

Role of the Delegate in Handling Grievances


Your job is two-fold. In addition to your work in building the organization in your school, you have an important role in ENFORCING THE CONTRACT AND RESOLVING GRIEVANCES. It is important that you deal with situations in the school in such a way as to convince members that the BTF is concerned about their professional welfare, and that it stands ready and able to help them.

The purpose of the grievance procedure is to secure the satisfactory resolution of contractual disputes. There must be free communication with members in order to reach such resolutions. It is important that your personal likes or dislikes do not influence your decisions and/or "union representation" in this regard. Always keep in mind the need for unity in your building. If a problem seems likely to arouse dissension, try to handle it as diplomatically as possible. If a complaint may somehow effect someone else in the ranks, seek them out and make sure that person is made aware of the possibilities. Also, try to secure a consensus rather than a simple majority. Ask for assistance if you need it. 

1. FIRST MAKE SURE THE PROBLEM IS A GRIEVANCE

A grievance is not a complaint against school authorities, fellow workers, personal disagreements and out-of-school problems, or a mistake in reading the Contract. A grievance may be a complaint by one or more teachers of a violation, a misapplication or a misinterpretation of the Contract, or a Board personnel policy. When in doubt, get in touch with your BTF Staff.

It may be necessary to talk to the complainant, at length, to determine whether a grievance exists. Consult the relevant sections of the Contract. There are some gray areas where there is no clear cut line of demarcation. In any borderline cases, give the teacher the benefit of the doubt and consult the BTF.

2. IF YOU ARE SURE A COMPLAINT IS NOT A GRIEVANCE

Tell the teacher gently that it cannot be taken up as such, and explain why it is not a grievance in the sense of the Contract. If the teacher is still not satisfied, present the case to the BTF Staff - it may be one of those "judgment calls" or you miqht be wrong. Be informative, tactful and supportive to each member.

An out-of-school- problem is not a grievance, of course, but you may be able to help refer a teacher, with such a problem, to someone who can help. If your knowledge or resource is too limited, the Federation may be able to help.

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