The changes to the procedures are done in red and/or marked by striking out the text being moved or removed.


Proposed GC Rule Changes

 

V. GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES.

(Adopted 11 July 2006 (Motion 06-13) and 22 August 2006 (Motion 06-13a))

Introduction: When a conflict arises between two members of The USGenWeb Project that cannot be resolved informally, either party has the option of requesting a review of the dispute by the Grievance Committee. The final decision of the Grievance Committee is binding on all parties.

A - Committee Qualifications & Appointments.

The Advisory Board will vote to make the initial appointments to the Grievance Committee after soliciting volunteers for the committee, posting their qualifications for comment by USGenWeb Project members on the BOARD-L, each of the Regional lists, and any other official project lists deemed necessary. Of the initial appointments four (4) will be for two-year terms, and three (3) for one-year terms. The Advisory Board will appoint the Grievance Coordinator for the initial term for a period of one year.

Future vacancies within the Grievance Committee will be filled by USGenWeb Project members in the following manner: The Grievance Coordinator will solicit volunteers for the position, and post their qualifications for comment. Volunteers will be chosen by a vote of Grievance Committee members, and presented to the Advisory Board for approval.

Future appointments as Grievance Coordinator will be by vote of the Grievance Committee members. Elections will be for a two-year term.

Qualifications:

Volunteers for the Grievance Committee will be required to meet certain minimum requirements for service.

Volunteers must have a minimum of one year's continuous service as a Member in Good Standing of either a State Project or a recognized Special Project of the USGenWeb Project.

Because grievances are considered personnel matters, all volunteers must state that they are willing to abide by strict confidentiality requirements. Volunteers must also state that they understand that violation of this confidentiality agreement will mean immediate expulsion from the Grievance Committee, and could result in determination of Member Not in Good Standing by the Advisory Board.

Committee Membership:

The Grievance Committee shall consist of seven members of The USGenWeb Project in good standing. The panel must include a State Coordinator and a member of the Special projects and three County Coordinators/Local Coordinators who have not served as State Coordinator or in a national level position within the last three years. The National Coordinator is an ex officio member of the Grievance Committee and is not eligible for assignment as the committee member overseeing an accepted grievance. In the event that a member of the Grievance Committee is one of the parties involved in the dispute or has a personal interest in the dispute, that Committee Member shall retire from involvement with any aspect of that grievance.

In the event that a Grievance Committee member changes positions in the USGenWeb Project during their term, they may remain as a representative of the position for which they were appointed until the end of their term. This does not apply in the case of the committee member's election to the USGenWeb Advisory Board, at which time they would be required to resign and a new representative appointed after a call for volunteers from within the project to fill the seat.

B - Committee Business

"The second list will not be archived and is considered strictly confidential. Only Committee members and the National Coordinator (NC), as ex-officio member of the committee will be subscribed to this list. (The NC will be subscribed in read-only mode.) Any questions or concerns related to specific grievances will be raised ONLY on the confidential list. The confidential list may NOT be used for public business, or in an effort to avoid public disclosure. To avoid the appearance of conflict of interest or impropriety in the case of a grievance being filed against the National Coordinator, the NC would be unsubscribed from the confidential list and another Advisory Board (AB) member will be subscribed until the grievance process is completed. The National Coordinator will not be eligible to vote on matters related to specific grievances, but will have full voting participation in other Grievance Committee business.

C - Duties of Grievance Committee Members.

Grievance Committee members act as administrators/advisors to volunteer mediators and arbitrators, following complaints assigned to them throughout the grievance process. Should a complaint progress to an arbitration hearing, the Grievance Committee member will be responsible for acting as Chair for the hearing. Grievance Committee members will not take direct part in mediations under their guidance, and will not have a vote in hearings they may chair. Grievance Committee members are responsible for tracking the progress of complaints until resolved, and making status reports to the Coordinator and/or Committee as may be necessary, with a final status report upon resolution of the complaint.

Additional duties of the Grievance Committee include:

D - Duties of Grievance Coordinator.

The Grievance Coordinator will be responsible for receiving complaints, numbering them, and assigning them to a Grievance Committee member to administer. The Coordinator will also be responsible for maintaining a list of volunteer members to act as mediators, as well as a list of volunteer arbitrators, and assigning them to complaints as needed. The Grievance Coordinator will make a Quarterly report to the Advisory Board on the number of complaints received and resolved, and provide other information as needed by the Board.

E - Grievance Process

1. The grievance process is initiated when a complaint is made by any of the following:

In the case of two or more individuals forming one party, the group will select one spokesperson to act on behalf of the others.

Third-party complaints will not be considered.

The grievance confidentiality begins when the grievance is filed with the Grievance Committee and extends to all parties (including the mediators, arbitrators and GC members) from the time the grievance process begins.

2 - The initial complaint should be brought to the Grievance Coordinator, and should include the following information:

3 - The following types of grievances will be handled by the Grievance Committee:

4 - Upon receiving the initial complaint, the Grievance Coordinator will assign it a number, and appoint one of the permanent committee members to review the complaint to determine whether it meets the requirements outlined in subsection C of this Section. At the same time, the Grievance Committee Chair will send a notice to the Advisory Board and to be posted on the BOARD-EXEC mail list that includes the names of all parties involved and a short (5-10 word max) description of the violation. This will serve as the Advisory Board's cue to cease and desist any involvement until and unless the grievance resolution is appealed. The review of the complaint will result in an "accept" or "reject" determination from the Committee Member assigned. The recommendation and the reasons therefore, shall be provided to the Grievance Committee as a whole, and voted upon.

The review of the complaint will result in an "accept" or "reject" determination from the Committee Member assigned. The recommendation and the reasons therefore, shall be provided to the Grievance Committee as a whole, and voted upon.  The review at this level should assume that the facts stated in the complaint are true, and the determination of the viability of the grievance made based upon the assumption that the complaint is true and a review of the by-laws, policies, or procedures alleged to have been violated.

If rejected, the member filing the grievance shall be informed that the grievance was not accepted and the reasons that it was not accepted. If the reason that the grievance was not accepted was due to the initial complaint not fulfilling the requirements of subsection C of this Section, the member will have 10 days to amend or correct any deficiencies in the initial complaint and resubmit it to the Grievance Committee Chair.

If accepted as a viable grievance, the parties shall be so informed.  The parties must acknowledge at the time of notification that a grievance has been filed that they understand and agree to abide by the confidentiality of the grievance process. Failure to agree to abide by the confidentiality of the grievance process is grounds to automatically and immediately lose the grievance. and a A Committee Member and volunteer mediator and two volunteer arbitrators assigned. The parties to the grievance, the Committee Member, mediator, and arbitrators will then be subscribed to a private email list.

The mediator shall advise the parties of the identity of the members of the team by return receipted email once they are assigned. It shall be the responsibility of the parties to the dispute to raise the issue of bias or conflict by a member of the team. This shall be done privately to the mediator, or the committee member if the conflict is alleged against the mediator. All claims of bias or conflict must be raised prior to the beginning of the mediation process.

If an objection should be raised to a team member, that member shall be dismissed and a new team member appointed without the necessity for any proof of bias or prejudice. The identity of the party raising the objection shall not be revealed to any team member. Once the team is seated and the process initiated, no further objection may be raised as to partiality, bias, or conflict, and a team member may only be removed on his or her own request.

5 - The duties and responsibilities of the team shall be:

6 - When the team is seated, the parties shall be so advised by the Mediator. Everyone will be reminded that the grievance confidentiality extends to all parties (including the mediators, arbitrators and GC members) from the time the grievance process begins and that failure to abide by the confidentiality of the grievance process is grounds to automatically and immediately lose the grievance. The parties shall have seventy-two (72) hours to submit to the Mediator a written statement of their position on the issues of the dispute. The mediator shall provide the position statements to the team members for their review.

The issues raised in the initial complaint and in the position statements of the parties shall be the sole issues for discussion in either mediation or arbitration. Prior precedent may be considered, but issues not raised in the complaint or in the position statements will not be considered.

Mediation will continue until the matter is resolved, or until it is apparent to the mediator that there will be no resolution forthcoming, but for a period of no more than ten days once mediation has begun without approval of the Grievance Committee. The mediator may request additional time from the Grievance Committee if it is the opinion of the team that a resolution is at hand. If it is apparent that no resolution is forthcoming the mediator will notify the committee that the matter will be submitted for arbitration.

All discussion regarding the issues during the grievance process is to be considered privileged and private, and shall not be disclosed during or after the process by either the team or either party, except as allowed by these procedures.

7 - Upon being opened for mediation, the volunteer arbitrators shall be unsubscribed from the discussion list during the mediation process.

The mediator may meet with each party separately, discussing the issues raised and prompting suggestions for a solution, short of the party receiving their requested goal that would be acceptable. All correspondence will be accessible to the permanent committee member.

When, and if, the mediator is able to bring both parties close to a potential resolution, the parties may be brought together on the closed list to try to finalize the compromise solution.

If, after the mediator has worked with both parties for a reasonable amount of time, and the mediator determines that the movement of one or both parties will not be sufficient to produce a mediated resolution, the process is terminated. The mediator will make a final recommendation to the Grievance Coordinator as to whether the matter should proceed to arbitration or whether the matter should be closed.

If an amiable agreement is achieved between the parties in the mediation process, the members of the team shall retire to closed session to insure that the resolution is appropriate in view of the goals and requirements of The USGenWeb Project. If no conflict is found, the resolution agreement will be forwarded to the Grievance Coordinator with a recommendation for approval, and the parties so notified by the mediator. If the resolution agreement is not consistent with the goals and requirements of The USGenWeb Project after review in closed session, the team will reconvene with the parties for further discussion.

Failure of either party to proceed with mediation in good faith is grounds for terminating the process.

The mediation process is confidential, and parties involved must agree to uphold that confidentiality unless ALL parties agree to the contrary.

8 - If the mediation process fails, and the grievant wishes to continue with the complaint, the mediator will so advise the volunteer arbitrators. The mediator and the arbitrators, along with the overseeing committee member, will conduct the arbitration hearing, with the committee member acting as a non-voting chair.

The volunteer arbitrators will be resubscribed to the mail list and both parties to the grievance will remain subscribed to the list. Both parties will be given the opportunity to present statements or evidence. The volunteer arbitrators may request additional information if they feel it is necessary, or may ask further questions of the parties involved.

After hearing both sides of the issue, the parties shall be given an additional seventy-two (72) hours to provide to the chair a written summation of their position in view of the discussions held.

The chair will provide these summations to each member of the team. The team shall retire to closed session and come to a recommendation of the course of action to be taken by the parties to resolve the dispute. The arbitrators may find for either party, or reach a decision that is a compromise between the two positions. The arbitrators will make a recommendation as to what action, if any, should be taken.

The burden of proof of a violation of the by-law, policy, or procedure cited in the initial complaint is on the person making the allegation. The decision of the arbitration team will be based on the information and evidence submitted and applicable USGenWeb and XXGenweb Project by-laws. Failure of one party to participate in the arbitration process will result in the decision being made against the non-participating party in accordance with the information presented.

This recommendation shall be submitted to the Grievance Coordinator for approval of the Grievance Committee. Upon approval, a written decision will detail to the parties the findings of the team and the actions to be taken by the parties in light of the findings.

The decision of the Arbitration Committee becomes the final resolution of the dispute upon approval of the recommendation by the Grievance Committee. Failure of any party or USGenWeb Project member to comply with the decision is a violation of The USGenWeb Project standing policy and procedures and subject to action by the USGenWeb Advisory Board.

The arbitration process is considered confidential, and parties involved must agree to uphold that confidentiality, unless ALL parties (including volunteer arbitrators and witnesses) agree to the contrary.

9 - The consequences for breaking the confidentiality of the grievance process will be:

Section 9 10 - A party aggrieved by a decision of the Grievance Committee may make an appeal to the USGenWeb Project Advisory Board. The Advisory Board will review the appeal to determine if the Grievance Procedures were followed as set out herein. An appeal to the Advisory Board is not a rehearing of the issues and the outcome is either to affirm the determination made by the Grievance Committee, or a return to the Grievance Committee for reconsideration.