discipline and investigations
an unfortunate aspect of our employer is the somewhat byzantine methods they employ to gain rule compliance. many of us have faced this system at its various stages including verbal warnings (not very often any more), letters of caution, start handling and investigations with formal discipline assessed.
remember, the employee always has the right to request an investigation!
the start program
in december of 1999, the ble&t entered an agreement with the carrier to allow the application of the newly created system teamwork and responsibility training (start) policy. authored by senior vice president of operations jon l. manetta, the start policy modified the manner in which discipline was handled. the policy was revamped in july of 2003 to reflect the carrier's realistic approach to discipline. designed to focus on positive ways, the policy is intended to improve performance rather than simply punish mistakes. the carrier intended the policy to focus on working together to prevent accidents and injuries by insuring rules compliance and prevent recurrence of offenses through positive learning experiences.
at least in theory.
phase i - employee development (12 months): the first four minor offenses that occur within the rolling one-year period will be handled with counseling. a rolling year is considered a calendar year from the date of incident.
- the employee and / or the local chairman must be notified of the counseling session within three days of the occurrence.
- the counseling session will be held away from the incident site and will involve training and education regarding the rule compliance issue(s) involved in the violation. this will provide the supervisor an opportunity to foster leadership skills and build and improve the relationship with the employee. the focus should be positive and educational, not punitive or accusatory.
- the counseling session will be confirmed in writing to the employee.
- after the fourth minor offense within the one-year rolling period, there will also be a required conference with the employee, local chairman and the supervisor to discuss the violations and the steps necessary for the employee to improve their performance. in addition, the employee will be required (without pay) to attend a formal training session.
- a fifth minor offense committed within the rolling one-year period will be considered a serious offense and handled as such under the revised policy guidelines. if the employee does not commit a minor or serious offense during a subsequent two-year period, the employee will revert to having minor offenses handled with counseling.
phase i - repetitive minor offenses: when an employee commits the same minor offense twice (the same rule violation) within a rolling one-year period:
- a conference will be held with the employee, local chairman and the supervisor to discuss the violations and the steps necessary for the employee to improve their performance. the employee will also be required (without pay) to attend a formal training session.
- if an employee commits the same minor offense a third time within a rolling one-year period, that offense and minor offenses committed thereafter will be considered serious offenses. if the employee does not commit a minor or serious offense during a subsequent two-year period, the employee will revert to having minor offenses handled with counseling.
phase ii - serious violations (24 months): serious offenses will continue to be handled with formal discipline unless the supervisor in consultation with the local chairman deems alternative handling to be appropriate.
- in the event that formal discipline is assessed, the progression has not been changed and is as follows:
1st serious maximum 30 days deferred
2nd serious maximum 30 days actual
3rd serious maximum dismissal
in the event alternative handling is utilized, employees will be paid for one-half of the time they are engaged in activities such as training and education required by alternative handling.
phase iii - major violations: major offenses are those that warrant removal from service pending a formal hearing and possible dismissal from service for a single such occurrence if proven guilty. examples of such offenses include: altercation (verbal or physical), theft, insubordination, rule g, weapons on the property, excessive speeding, passing stop signals, major accidents, other acts of blatant disregard for the rights of employees or the carrier, and acts that recklessly endanger the safety of employees or the public.
oversight committee: the committee will consist of the department head, a labor relations representative, and a representative from the organization. the appropriate committee will meet as necessary and will review cases to ensure that each is given fair and consistent handling.
this policy may be modified as appropriate to address the demands of the business. the ble&t and employees are encouraged to submit recommendations for improvements in the start policy.
public law boards and special board of adjustments
after a hearing, if a negative response from the carrier is received, the judicial process continues with appeals on behalf of the claimaint to various arbitration and mediation boards. these are known as public law boards and special board of adjustments which are final and binding. to find out more about these boards, click here!