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Frequently Asked Questions:
 
 
 

WHAT UNIONS DO:

Unions are about a simple proposition: By joining together, working women and men gain strength in numbers so they can have a voice at work about what they care about. They negotiate a contract with their employer for things like a fair and safe workplace, better wages, a secure retirement and family-friendly policies such as paid sick leave and scheduling hours. They have a voice in how their jobs get done, creating a more stable, productive workforce that provides better services and products. Always adapting to the challenges of our nation’s evolving workforce, unions are meeting the needs of workers in today’s flexible and nontraditional work environments. Because no matter what type of job workers are in, by building power in unions, they can speak out for fairness for all working people in their communities and create better standards and a strong middle class across the country.

 

What do the letters AFT/AFT-CT, AFL-CIO mean in our title?

Our official title is Judicial Professional Employees Union, Local 4200B, AFT/AFT-CT, AFL-CIO. AFT stands for the American Federation of Teachers, our national affiliate. It represents approx. one million educators, health care workers and public employees throughout the country. AFT-CT (AFT-Connecticut), our statewide affiliate, represents state employees in the all branches of government. A total of five other State employee unions are affiliated with AFT-CT. As Local 4200B, we are a small segment of these two larger organizations. The AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor/Congress of Industrial Organizations), a voluntary federation of unions, is a resource for activism on a variety of labor issues at the state and national level.
Further information on this topic can be found in the About Us section of this website.

Why should I join the Union?

As a member of the professional bargaining unit (a group of similar jobs for which we are the exclusive bargaining representative) you have the right to join our Union. Membership gives you access to a wide variety of benefits available through our affiliates. It also insures you the right to participate in our internal elections and grants access to our local JPE scholarship program. Please refer to the Member Benefits section for more information on the various programs available to members.

It is our responsibility to negotiate with the Judicial Branch over wages, hours and other conditions of your employment. In addition, we advocate for the employees we represent in matters of safety, security and contract enforcement. As an incumbent in a professional bargaining unit job class, you benefit from our activities whether or not you choose to become a Union member. There is no additional cost for Union membership over the fees that are deducted from each paycheck. The procedure for choosing Union membership is simple. Contact our office at 860-216-1550 and ask for a Membership Authorization Card. We’ll mail one out. Just complete it and return it to us.

What do Union dues pay for?

Union dues/fees cover the cost of lobbying on issues crucial to our members at both the state and national level. They cover the cost of legal representation in the courts, at the State Board of Labor Relations and in grievance matters which wind up before an arbitrator. Also covered are the costs associated with negotiating collective bargaining agreements with the Judicial Branch as well as pension and health care agreements in coalition with the other state employee unions. Administrative costs associated with operating our office and maintaining our affiliate relationships are also included.

Who runs the Union?

Our Executive Board is empowered to act for the general good of the organization by establishing and administering the policies, procedures, methods and means required to accomplish the goals established by the members and referenced in our Constitution. Board members are elected to two year terms of office at the Annual Membership Meeting in odd numbered years. A list of current Board members can be found in the Officers section of this website. The Executive Board meets monthly to conduct its business. Its members are full time Judicial Branch employees who are incumbents in the various positions designated for Executive Board representation. Responsibility for the day to day operation of our office falls to the Executive Director, our only employee. The Executive Director is also responsible for a wide variety of activities associated with the basic responsibilities and core functions of our Union. The position reports to and takes direction from the Executive Board.

What is a grievance?

A grievance is contractually defined as a dispute concerning the interpretation or application of a specific provision of the collective bargaining agreement. Complaints involving the allegation of a pattern of unfair treatment of an employee by the employer may, under certain circumstances, also rise to the level of a grievance.

What is the grievance procedure?

The grievance procedure is a multi-step administrative process designed to provide a vehicle for the orderly resolution of workplace issues which conform to the definition noted above. Its various steps are noted in Article 10 of the collective bargaining agreement. The collective bargaining agreement (union contract) is available in printed form from our office or electronically in the Contract section of this website.

An individual employee may file a grievance on his/her own without the assistance of the Union or may request Union representation in filing and presenting the grievance to the employer. By contract however, only the Union may carry a grievance to the level of binding arbitration.

I have an issue but I’m not sure if it’s a grievance. What should I do?

The best bet is to call our office for advice. Should the matter rise to the level of a grievance, necessary information can be generated and a document can be filed quickly. This is a crucial first step since grievances must be filed during specified time frames (thirty days from the date of the incident in most cases, twenty days for incidents involving serious discipline). Failure to file timely disqualifies the grievance.

We are committed to assisting members wherever possible even if an issue does not meet the contractual definition of a grievance. A variety of options exist for the airing of non-grievable but nonetheless important issues being faced by those we represent. After talking over the issue, we can suggest strategies best suited to achieving a satisfactory resolution.

As a new employee, when do my contract rights begin?

With one very important exception, they begin as soon as you begin service in a professional bargaining unit position. Such rights as sick, vacation and personal time accrual begin immediately. Those we represent are also immediately eligible for any raise increases due under our contract. Access to the grievance procedure also begins upon hiring although we advise employees against filing a grievance during their nine month probationary period unless it is absolutely essential to do so.

Professional bargaining unit members do not achieve permanent status until they have successfully completed a nine month probationary period. Any decision by the employer that a probationary employee is unable or unwilling to perform his/her duties and consequently is terminated prior to the attainment of permanent status is neither grievable nor arbitrable. Once permanent status is achieved, the employee can be disciplined only after just cause has been shown.

What is collective bargaining?

It is a form of interacting with the employer which stresses the concept that more can be accomplished by a group working together for the common good than can be achieved by an individual acting alone. Collective bargaining recognizes that employees have a right to participate in determining the terms and conditions of their employment. By law, the state must bargain over wages, hours and certain working conditions with the exclusive representative of incumbents in positions grouped by similarity of duties and educational background and designated as bargaining units. The professional bargaining unit in the Judicial Branch, for which our Union is the exclusive representative, is comprised of sixty-two separate job classes.

What is SEBAC and what does it do?

The State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) is a group of the thirteen large Unions representing, through their various local affiliates, unionized state employees in all three branches of government. By law it is empowered to negotiate pension and health care issues with the state. The current pension and health care agreement was negotiated in 1997 and will expire in 2017. Connecticut is the only state in the nation which negotiates its pension and health care provisions in this manner.

When the state faces budgetary problems, which has happened all too frequently over the last few years, it approaches SEBAC for concessions designed to avoid layoff. It is for that reason alone that certain aspects of the health care agreement have been modified since 1997. Those changes were ratified by each of the thirty individual state employee bargaining units. While fighting for the pension and health care rights of unionized state employees, SEBAC has carried its message stressing the value of the services state employees provide to the state capitol as well as to the print and electronic media.

Who are the officers of the Union and what job classes do they represent?

A list of currently serving officers can be found in the Officers section of this website. A list of professional bargaining unit job classes can be found in Appendix B of our collective bargaining agreement.

How can I get a copy of the contract?

The contract is available for download from this website by clicking on Contract and following the instructions.

If I have a question about the contract, who should I contact?

Contact any member of the Executive Board  at our office: 50 Columbus Blvd, Hartford, CT 06106; 860-216-1550.

Can I view the Union website from my office computer?

Per Judicial Branch policy, employees may view the Union website during their break periods or lunch. We strongly advise against sending us e-mail messages from your office computer or faxing documents to us from a state fax machine unless you are asked to do so by a Union official.