The Agreement between the State of Minnesota and the Minnesota Government Engineering Council (MGEC) is the contract. When negotiating the contract, both the State of Minnesota and MGEC seek to draft language that is clear and concise. Sometimes that is difficult and over time the parties understanding of that language leads to differing interpretations. Additionally, the employer contends that they can create rules, policies, procedures, guidelines and practices whenever the contract doesn’t specifically address an issue. Many of the employer’s efforts attempt to add further specification to existing contract language. In MGEC’s experience, that additional employer language sometimes conflicts with contract language, which can create a situation where a grievance is filed to address the conflict.
A grievance is a situation where the union lodges a formal employee complaint that an action taken by the employer violates the terms of the contract. Grievances must be approved by the MGEC Executive director or persons with the authority to do so. This process usually takes place before other legal processes. MGEC works closely with employees, but it is MGEC that has the right and responsibility to determine what steps to take and provides for costs associated with the grievance/arbitration process. Informal resolution of issues that might become grievances is encouraged. That effort might include any of the following parties: the employee, MGEC, the supervisor/manager or Human Resources staff.
The grievance process has specific timelines. A formal grievance must be filed within twenty working days of the event being grieved. MGEC has the right to request information relevant to the issue. MGEC, the employer and the affected employee(s) will meet to discuss the issue and seek resolution. If that doesn’t succeed, the grievance process has a second step with a person higher up the employer’s ranks or the agency staff. If the grievance is unresolved after the second step, it may go to mediation and/or ultimately arbitration.
Once the grievance moves to arbitration, the State of Minnesota and MGEC will work with an arbitrator. The arbitrator shall have no right to amend, modify, nullify, ignore, add to, or subtract from the provisions of the contract. He or she shall consider and decide only the specific issue submitted in writing by the State and MGEC. The arbitrator shall be without power to decide contrary to, inconsistent with, modifying or varying in any way the application of laws, rules, or regulations having the force and effect of law. This process may take several months to a year.
2015-2017 Interest Arbitration – When the State and MGEC cannot reach a voluntary agreement on a new contract, the unresolved issues may be arbitrated. Arbitrator Wallin, Esq. found that MGEC successfully made the case that the employer needs to consider internal and external compensation comparison and awarded increases higher than the 2.5% ATB to compensation ranges 9, 11, & 14 (Senior Engineers and Land Surveyors, Principal Engineers and Land Surveyors, and Administrative Engineers and Land Surveyors).