Tuesday, October 01, 2002

I imagine some, including my fellow authors, are wondering what I liked about the letter Ravi sent to the SCSU discuss list. I think he makes two excellent points. First off, there is a natural tension between the grievance and mediation processes. Mediation, as practiced here, "provides an alternative means of addressing disputes and solving problems." It is not meant to be a substitute for grievances. So what happens? It gets to run alongside grievance. The petition for mediation tells that if you file for mediation, your grievance is put on hold. So it can be used not to really short-circuit the process, but to add another layer of potential negotiation. It seems to me that Ravi is saying that when we put in our strategic plan "The Mediation project should be given every opportunity to succeed since it fills a gap where conflicts cannot be resolved by grievance nor by Affirmative Action," that mediation is in fact establishing areas where the contract breaks down; when the contract is clear, use of mediation subverts the grievance process. (Non-SCSU readers might want to see the contract -- you'll need Adobe for this.)

Ravi also points out that the discrimination cases being discussed belong specifically to the legal environment, again unless the parties agree on something short of a trial. It seems to me that this recognition implies as well, and I think Ravi agrees, that expenses incurred on behalf of discrimination victims are not part of the enforcement of the contract. Discriminating against someone is wrong as a matter of law, not as a matter of the Master Contract. So expensive lawsuits in pursuit of discrimination claims may be seen as not something one can charge to fair-share dues paid by non-union members to the IFO.

Those are legal questions, and I'm not a lawyer. Send me mail if you think that's wrong.