Section 1. Purpose and Definitions
The Library of Congress and AFSCME Local 2910 have met to bargain the establishment of an ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROCESS.
The Guild agrees to enter into this alternative dispute resolution process with the hope that it might provide a venue for the prompt and equitable resolution of bargaining unit members' disputes through the voluntary use of the alternative dispute resolution process. This procedure is not intended to infringe in any negative way on Employee Rights, Guild Rights, or Management Rights; it is intended to serve as an optional pre-grievance mediation process which may be used by bargaining unit members as an alternative to Step 1 of the Negotiated Grievance Procedure, and as an alternative to the counseling stage of the LCR 2010-3.1 (Resolution of Problems, Complaints and Charges of Discrimination in Library Employment and Staff Relations Under the Equal Opportunity Program).
A dispute is any problem that any employee or group of employees is having or has had in the workplace, with inclusions and exclusions noted below:
Section 2. Library-Guild Cooperation
- Dispute resolution may include, but is not limited to, the following matters:
- grievances as defined under the Negotiated Grievance Procedure;
- EEO complaints;
- other matters, including oral and written warnings and performance evaluations (narrative and adjectival rating);
- the procedures by which excluded matters (adverse actions, position classification appeals, etc.) are implemented.
- Policies and Procedures Governing Adverse Actions (see LCR 2020-3);
- Position Classification Appeals in the Library (see LCR 2016-2);
- personnel security determinations (see LCR 2024-1 through 2024-10);
- Grade and Pay Retention (see LCR 2013-3.7);
- the terms of this Agreement (CBA), including signed midterm agreements;
- class action complaints; and
- third party complaints (parties without a direct interest in the outcome).
- The Library, the Guild, and the Dispute Resolution Center agree to appoint one representative each, who will meet regularly (at least once a month), to monitor and review the process, discuss its progress, and work together to resolve any difficulties which may arise. These representatives may make recommendations to the Director of the Dispute Resolution Center based on their discussions and findings.
- To insure that the process is monitored effectively, a procedure will be developed to provide the basis for tracking of cases, as well as statistical compilations and evaluation of the process. At least the following information shall be kept regularly, and provided once a month to both the Library and Guild representatives, so long as confidentiality is maintained:For individual cases: Case number; Name of disputant / Administrative unit; Name(s) of involved party(ies)/ Administrative unit; Nature of dispute; Date of initial contact; Dates of all other changes in status of case; Name of Convener; Names of panel members; Disposition of dispute; Nature of resolution.
The Library will also provide the Guild with copies of all annual reports of the Dispute Resolution Center.
- Guild, Dispute Resolution Center and Library representatives will meet semi-annually (from the signing of this Agreement) to review recently resolved cases, trends, and underlying problems. A brief report of concerns raised at the meeting, and recommended courses of action, will be prepared and sent promptly to the appropriate management authority(ies) via the Director of the Dispute Resolution Center.
Section 3. Employee Rights
- All bargaining unit members, or former bargaining unit members with disputes still pending, may use this process.
- Bargaining unit employees retain all rights accorded in Article 3 (Employee Rights).A bargaining unit member may contact the Dispute Resolution Center directly, following the provisions of Article 3 (Employee Rights), Section 10. The Convener will advise the employee that he/she has the right, upon request, to be represented by a Guild steward, officer or designated Guild representative in any meetings connected with the Dispute Resolution process pursuant to Article 5 (Guild Rights), Section 5. The presentation of a dispute by an employee will not adversely reflect on his/her standing with or loyalty to the Library pursuant to Article 36 (Negotiated Grievance Procedure), Section 5.
- Bargaining unit members shall not be subjected to harassment, restraint, interference, coercion, or reprisal because of having used the dispute process, or because of having obtained resolution or because of the terms thereof.The Parties consider that reprisal constitutes unacceptable behavior in the workplace. Therefore, allegations of reprisal will be considered matters of the highest priority. They will be referred by an employee to the Director of the Dispute Resolution Center. If the matter cannot be resolved within five (5) work days, a formal grievance at the Second Step or a formal charge of discrimination may be filed.
The same procedures will be followed in dealing with charges that the Library has not lived up to the terms of an agreement.
- The disputant may continue in an appropriate process upon completion of the Dispute Resolution process (i.e., Step 2 of the Grievance Process or the Formal Stage of the EEO process) or may withdraw from the process at any time.
- Each bargaining unit member shall have a reasonable amount of time for preparation involved with the Dispute Resolution process. The use of official time shall include time spent discussing one's case with a Convener or appearing before a Dispute Resolution Panel. Employees shall not abuse this grant of official time.
- The Library agrees to make available to the disputant or involved party(ies), upon reasonable request, any non-privileged, non-confidential record relevant and necessary to the presentation at Dispute Resolution, provided such records or data are normally maintained by the Library in the regular course of business.
- . Any information or documents to be held in confidence by the Convener must be plainly marked "Not for Disclosure" by the disputant.
Section 4. Guild Rights
The Guild shall have the following rights:
- It retains all rights specified under the Civil Service Reform Act, the CBA, and/or pertinent LCRs. The following provisions of the CBA shall be extended to Guild activities under this Agreement but subject to the limitations set forth in the CBA:
- Article 1 (Parties and Purposes of the Agreement), Section 2, the Guild's status as exclusive bargaining representative of all employees in the bargaining unit;
- Article 6 (Guild Representation), Section 3, the Guild's right to use official time for representational functions;
- Article 6, Section 3, the Guild's right to use a reasonable amount of time for representational activities; and
- Article 6, Section 5, caution against the abuse of official time.
- The right to appoint one (1) member from the Guild's bargaining unit to serve on a panel convened to hear a dispute involving Guild bargaining unit members.
- The right to represent a bargaining unit member (if requested by that person) in any meetings under the alternative dispute resolution process, including presentations before a panel according to Section 10 of this article.
- The right to be furnished a copy of all written resolutions of disputes involving bargaining unit members within three (3) work days of signing.
- The right to extend the use of official time to any appointed Guild Dispute Resolution Coordinator.
- The right to have designated officials serving as Dispute Resolution Coordinator or Guild representatives on panels established under Section 10 of this article trained together with managers in the Alternative Dispute Resolution Process.
- The Library agrees to provide adequate training for those eligible to participate as Dispute Resolution panel members, as representatives, or as Dispute Resolution Coordinator. Should the Guild experience a shortage of personnel, the Guild may request in writing that a training session be conducted. If the Library is unable or unwilling to meet Guild training needs, the Library agrees to provide dispute resolution training material, and sufficient official time and facilities for Guild representatives to train their colleagues.
Section 5. Time Requirements for Bringing Concerns to the Dispute Resolution Center
- Disputes must be brought to the attention of the Dispute Resolution Center within ten (10) work days of the origin of the dispute, or within ten (10) work days from the time the disputant became aware of the circumstances which caused or are causing the dispute.
- The Director of the Dispute Resolution Center shall extend the time limit for acceptance upon determination that the party filing the dispute was prevented from submitting the dispute due to other extenuating circumstances. The request for an extension must be submitted in writing and must outline the circumstances which prevented the timely filing of the dispute.
Section 6. Identification of Neutrals Whenever it is necessary to employ someone other than the staff of the Dispute Resolution Center to handle disputes brought by Guild bargaining unit members, the Library and the Guild shall confer to identify a neutral acceptable to both Parties.
Section 7. Mediation by Convener
- When a disputant comes to the Dispute Resolution Center, a convener will meet with him/her to hear his/her concerns, explain the nature of the dispute resolution process and clarify the nature of the dispute. The disputant must identify the dispute as an EEO complaint, grievance, or "other" at the time of the filing. The decision of what to file is that of the disputant and his/her representative.
- The Convener will first attempt to clarify the nature of the dispute, and then to encourage the disputant to attempt to resolve the matter with the other party. If the Parties cannot resolve the dispute among themselves, the Convener will meet individually or jointly with the Parties to attempt to resolve the matter. This step is to be a rigorous attempt to resolve the matter by all involved Parties.
- If the Parties reach a written agreement within thirty (30) work days from the date of filing with the Dispute Resolution Center the dispute is resolved, ending the process.
- If the Parties have not reached a written agreement within thirty (30) work days from the date of filing with the Dispute Resolution Center, the Director may, on a one-time basis, extend this period for up to ten (10) workdays if a resolution is pending, or if he/she determines that there is a chance for resolution within that period of time. Any extension will be granted by the Director of the Dispute Resolution Center only after conferring with all involved Parties.
- If the Parties are not near to resolution at the end of this period the dispute is declared unresolved. Depending upon the nature of the matter the dispute may be processed further or not as follows:
- If the dispute is identified as an EEO complaint, the disputant may elect to:
- timely file a grievance according to the provisions of Article 36 (Negotiated Grievance Procedure); or
- timely file a formal complaint of discrimination under LCR 2010-3.1 with the Equal Employment Opportunity Complaints Office, which will make every reasonable effort to process it in a timely manner.
- If the dispute was originally identified as a grievance the disputant may timely file a Step Two grievance according to the provisions of Article 36 (Negotiated Grievance Procedure) . Alternatively, the Guild may request to bring three (3) unresolved grievances per year to panel before filing a Step Two grievance, and may negotiate for additional panels for grievances with the Director of the Dispute Resolution Center who will consult with the appropriate service unit head.
- If the matter was originally identified as "other", the disputant may request to go to panel. (This provision does not apply to oral and written warnings).
- If the dispute is not referred to a panel, the Dispute Resolution Process ends.
Section 8. Panel Makeup
- Generally, trained bargaining unit members and managers will serve on Dispute Resolution panels.
- Panels involving Guild bargaining unit members will consist of one (1) manager designated by the associate librarian of the appropriate service unit (or his/her designee) and one (1) labor designee appointed by the Guild. The Parties will try to avoid designating panel members who may be put into a conflict of interest situation.
Section 9. Forming a Panel
- A panel will be formed within five (5) work days following the decision of the disputant to proceed.
- Procedures for contacting the Guild:When it is necessary to form a panel for a complaint involving a bargaining unit member, the Library will immediately contact the appropriate service unit head and the Guild in writing providing the following information:
- name of disputant/s;
- name of other party/s;
- origin of dispute (administrative unit); and
- a brief statement describing the basis of the complaint.
Two (2) copies shall be dated and placed in an agreed-to location within the Dispute Resolution Center and accessible to the Guild's Dispute Resolution Coordinator.
Within five (5) work days, the service unit head and the Guild shall respond in writing, naming one (1) representative each to serve on the panel. The Guild response shall be delivered to an agreed-to location within the Dispute Resolution Center.
Section 10. Panel Procedures
- The panel will convene within five (5) work days from the time it is named.
- The panel may elect to hear the dispute with both Parties in the room at the same time, if all involved Parties agree. The Convener has full authority over the proceedings.
- All Parties to the dispute have the right to representation during the panel presentation.
- It is expected that the Parties will do most of the talking in presenting their sides of the dispute. Disputants and other Parties may present or indicate documents to be presented to the panel for their consideration.
- Representatives may make observations, give advice, or offer additional information, and may speak on behalf of the Parties if the Parties so choose.
- After hearing the dispute, the panel will meet to discuss possible resolutions. Panel members may call upon the Convener to provide additional information if they feel that it is necessary to assist them in understanding the situation and proposing a resolution.
- The panel will attempt to agree on a proposed resolution, conferring as necessary with their respective line organizations. The Convener will act as a mediator in assisting the panel to reach a resolution, but may not participate in the deliberations of the panel. A proposed resolution must be agreed to by the panelists.
- The Convener will remind panel members of the seriousness of the deadline, and will take all actions necessary to facilitate a resolution. Generally, the panel will forward a proposed resolution to the service unit head for ratification within five (5) work days of its inception. The five (5) day deadline may be extended by the Director of the Dispute Resolution Center should circumstances warrant such extension.
- As a way of resolving underlying problems, panel members may make recommendations to Library management separately from the proposed resolution, via the Director of the Dispute Resolution Center with copies to the Director for Human Resources and the Guild.
- If the panel does not agree on a proposed resolution, the disputant and/or representative will be notified immediately, and the process will end for disputes designated as "other" when filed. A dispute designated as "grievance" when originally filed may then be timely filed as a Step Two grievance according to the provisions of Article 36 (Negotiated Grievance Procedure).
- All proposed resolutions will be in writing.
- No resolution shall change, modify, alter, subtract from or add to, either directly or indirectly, the provisions of this Agreement or the Library's regulations. All resolutions must be consistent with the terms of this Agreement (including signed mid-term agreements) and the Library's regulations.
Section 11. Service Unit Head Decision
- The proposed resolution will be submitted to the service unit head for approval. The panel will be informed of any alterations made to the proposed resolution. The approved proposal will be offered as a resolution to the disputant who will have five (5) work days to consider the offer. If accepted, the offered resolution will be implemented.
- If the disputant elects to reject the proposed resolution, or if the service unit head does not offer a proposed resolution, the disputant and/or representative will be notified, and the matter will be processed in accordance with this article (as specified in Section 10 J above).
Section 12. Use of Alternative Process Documentation
- Drafts of agreements, authored in the alternative process may not be introduced in any future Library processing of that case.
- Panel designees will not participate in any way in subsequent formal proceedings except to provide factual information unrelated to panel deliberations. Also, panel members or conveners may not be called in any future administrative proceedings to give testimony on any opinion(s) they formed during the panel process on the merits of a particular case, or their deliberations of that case.
- The Library will retain and maintain files of all disputes involving bargaining unit members, dating from the beginning of Pilot 1. Dispute files will contain:- name of disputant/administrative unit;These files will be retained according to current standards for EEO disputes, and under appropriate authorizations (such as LCRs), for a maximum of two (2) years. Two (2) years from the end of the case, the Library will sanitize that file and retain it for another three (3) years. To contribute to the effectiveness of the dispute resolution process and the resolution of underlying problems in the Library, files will be accessible by:
- name of involved parties/administrative unit;
- nature of dispute;
- date of initial contact;
- name of Convener; and
- agency documentation.- name of disputant/administrative unit;
- name of involved parties/administrative unit;
- nature of dispute;
- date of initial contact; and
- name of Convener.
- If the disputant files a formal EEO complaint, the file (as defined above) will be forwarded to the EEO Office. If the disputant files a grievance charging discrimination, the file will be retained for possible use by an arbitrator.
Section 13. Nothing in this article shall infringe on Guild rights under law or the terms of this Agreement.
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