|Delivering information when you need it most.||March 1998, Vol. 1 No. 6|
A Look At Article 16
by Gary Mills
Discipline seems to be flowing as freely as water these days.
The definition of "Just Cause" and the 6 questions found later in this article are just some of the criteria that our Union Management Pair's (UMP's) may use to determine if the burden of "Just Cause" has been met.
They are provided as a check list that MAY help you determine if the principles of "just cause" have been met when and if you receive discipline.
Article 16 addresses that Just Cause should be based on a case-by-case basis.
Discipline is a very serious matter. Do not take the guidelines listed below and ride into the office like the Lone Ranger and attempt to resolve any discipline issues on your own. You should FIRST and ALWAYS consult your Shop Steward.
Discipline & Just Cause
The requirement that discipline must be for Just Cause is established in Article 16, Section 1 of the National Agreement between the NALC and the USPS. Other than simply stating the requirement, however, Article 16 addresses that Just Cause should be based on a case-by-case basis. To a certain extent, however, Just Cause has been defined.
"Just Cause such as, but not limited to, insubordination, pilferage, intoxication, (drugs or alcohol), incompetence, failure to perform work as requested, violation of the terms of this agreement, or failure to observe safety rules and regulations."
Any such discipline or discharge shall be subject to the grievance-arbitration procedure provided for in this Agreement, which could result in reinstatement and restitution, including back pay.
The following questions consist of a set of guidelines that are to be applied to the facts of any one case to determine whether Just Cause for disciplinary action exist:
1. Is the violated rule or managerial order reasonably related to the orderly, efficient and safe operation of the Postal Service?
2. Was the employee forewarned or did the employee have foreknowledge of the possible or probable disciplinary consequences of the employees conduct?
3. Did management investigate before administering discipline to determine that the employee did in fact disobey a rule or order of management?
4. Was the investigation conducted fairly and objectively, and did it obtain substantial proof or evidence that the employee was guilty as charged?
5. Have Postal rules, orders, and penalties been applied to all employees evenhandedly and without discrimination?
6. Was the degree of discipline administered reasonably related to the seriousness of the proven offense and the past record of the employee?
A "no" answer to any of the above questions normally signifies Just Cause did not exist.
Gary Mills is the Steward in Rolla, MO for NALC Branch 343, an Associate Office merged with St. Louis, MO. Gary has been with the post office for 25 years, serving as NALC Steward for the past 7 of those years.