Dear Intern

Dear Intern, you had your first third step grievance meeting yesterday. So, how'd that go for you? I understand that the grievance may be upheld. I am hearing that you are concerned about the impact on you . . . .let's talk about it.

First and foremost, there is absolutely no impact on my assessment of you or of your performance. The foundation of the grievance was selection for a position. An external candidate was selected for a position over internal candidates because in the selecting official's determination, the internal candidates did not meet the qualifications for the position. When grieved, we responded to support management's right to select the most qualified person for the position. The reviewer feels that there was at least one internal candidate who could have done the job well. If that is the case, then yes, the Union is correct and first rights to the position should go to the internal candidate. If that is the case, then yes, I support the decision to uphold the grievance and grant remedy to the employee.

What happened? Technically, the process was lock-step by the book. We asked the questions we needed to ask many different ways and when the answers were consistent, we proceeded. Unfortunately, it turns out that management's position was not as strong as we had hoped. Listen to me when I say this . . . the case was not weakened by the arguments used, the defense prepared or anyone's comments in the actual meeting. The case was weak because the foundations were weak.  

I was prepared for a challenge to our technical defenses. Management's interpretation differed from the Union's and that is why we have a grievance process. What I was not prepared for was the Union's assertion that the selecting official told them that she would have taken one of the internal candidates, that this candidate could have done the job. If that is the case, the selecting official changed her story and brought into question the very foundation of the issue at hand.

So, what is there to learn from this?  I am not one to fight a losing battle for the fight itself. Our ability to select the most qualified person for a position is an issue that is worth taking on and one that I, and you, will take on again. For me, and I hope for you, the learning from this case is to make sure we know absolutely everything we possibly can and to push back, challenge, and question until we feel that we do and to not let any question be left unanswered. We must do so to be fair and equitable to our employees.

What about the selecting official? If in fact she changed her story, I will hold her accountable for her actions. If she did not and the Union President was not forthright, he too will be held accountable.

What about you? You did well in your first grievance, especially stepping into it midstream. The way I see it is if an employee was wronged and the grievance process corrected it, we all won.