Frequently Asked Questions about Grievances
What is a grievance?
A grievance is a complaint or allegation by a member or members of the Bargaining Unit or by the Association arising out of the interpretation of any provision of the Agreement.
TEEA and TESD signed a contract that discusses salary, benefits, and other issues such as how the mentorship program works, FMLA, and what to do when a teacher is deficient in their performance.
Sometimes TEEA and TESD cannot agree about the meaning of the words in the contract. A grievance is the mechanism by which contract language problems can be resolved.
How does a grievance work?
According to the contract, the purpose of the grievance procedure is to “secure, at the lowest possible level, equitable solutions to grievances which may from time to time arise affecting members of the Bargaining Unit.”
TEEA has tried to resolve problems by talking with the District at the lowest possible level. The District has repeatedly chosen not to resolve these problems at an administrative level by failing to engage with its professional educators.
If the Superintendent and TEEA cannot resolve the disagreement, the grievance is forwarded to the School Board. If they too cannot resolve the problem, the grievance goes to a mutually selected arbitrator.
How long does a grievance process normally take?
After arbitration, some grievances have been appealed by the District through the court system. Final resolution of grievances could take three or more years. There is not immediate financial impact to the District.
Why does TEEA file grievances?
Grievances are the only mechanism for resolving contract disputes. They are a procedure to precipitate discussion.
Similar examples exist in other contract situations. For example, if a family lawyer fails to meet contracted obligations with a client (e.g. while writing a will) the disagreement would first involve discussions between the parties. If the parties fails to resolve the dispute, many such contracts now provide conflict resolution through a third-party. Other familiar examples include professional services (financial, consulting), home contractors, and professional sports.
TEEA has no ability to speak at Board meetings like residents of the District. District policy prohibits our teachers from making public comments about District problems. Grievances are the only method of resolving conflicts if TEEA believes a violation has occurred.
Why did TEEA file the six period grievance?
Teachers at the high school are concerned about changes to working conditions that hamper their ability to work with students to improve their academic performance and to provide individual support to students. Teachers have limited ability to work with colleagues to collaborate and improve curriculum. This directly affects the academic program at the high school.
Teachers currently teach six periods per day and are assigned one duty. This leaves 43 minutes of available time to work with individual students while they are in the building, a substantial reduction from past practice. Students are often unavailable for after school help because of athletics, extracurricular activities, and part time jobs.
Additionally, teachers are teaching more students. Teachers are frustrated that they cannot offer the same type of support to their students as in the past.
This grievance was filed out of concern for this changing academic environment.
Why has TEEA not spoken about the six period grievance in public?
Our contract prohibits public discussion of grievances: “Documents, communications and records dealing with the processing of a grievance shall be held confidential…” (section5.048) TEEA has repeatedly notified the District that these confidential grievances should not be discussed in public, but the District has ignored these contract violations.