Sick leave abuse
I'm a new Local president with little time on the job (full time) and little union experience but I'm learning fast. I know everyone has "that guy" that is the sick leave abuser, and we're no exception. But we are a small Local, and most sick time call offs generate OT, which we don't always mind, but there's a limit. We have nothing in our contract that specifies what happens when you call off sick and are out of sick leave. The guilty party has 7 hrs sick time built up (13 yrs on the job) and called off his 24 hr shift. Talking to him has fallen on deaf ears, we just want him to show up or find another job. Putting applications for Taco Bell and Wendy's in his mailbox hasn't worked. What responsibilities do we have as a union to protect him if/when they get rid of him, and what recourse does the city have i.e. can they just say you're out of sick time so your fired.
This is something that management should be dealing with not the union. Yes as you said everyone has one but this is not our responsability. Many contracts have language that simply say the union will try and help said employer with curbing sick abuse but that's usually about it. Just an FYI if this guy has been doing this for that long and the employer has not done anything to curb it then don't worry about because obviously the employer doesn't care if the employee is abusing their sick time and that would be argued as past practice.
First of all using sick days is not sick leave abuse but sick leave use. Sick leave is a benefit given to employees. It becomes sick leave abuse when one is out of sick time and continues to call in sick. The city has the option of ignoring minor offenses or can actually take pay away which would probably stop abuse. The union should be there to protect union members if their actions are within the rules but abuse is not within any rules.
Sick leave use
I'm with those who say it's the Chief's job to handle the sick leave problem if there is one. You have to remember that it's there to use when you need it and sometimes it is used when you are NOT sick. There are times when you need to be off and you are NOT sick i.e. Child care, doctors appointments etc.Use it as needed but remember when it's gone ...it's gone. Then you will have to deal with being off without pay or have someone work for you.
Some places I've worked have had a formal sick leave policy - if your sick time was audited and it showed a pattern, you could be kept off the OT roster, etc.......but I think that was built into the contract.
If there is no policy, maybe it is time to implement one - BUT make sure it is across the board and doesn't single any one person out.......
You essentially have no control over what the City does, so I wouldn't spend too much time worrying about what they can do (rule wise) because they'll likely just do what they want to do anyway.
Originally Posted by localpres
If the City chooses not to take any action, then there may not be much to worry about, but it wouldn't hurt to continue to try and get this person to understand that they need to "get with the program" or possibly face discipline by the Chief or City.
Your obligation as a Union official mainly entails making sure that the City follows the proper procedure for any disciplinary action they take. Consulting a labor attorney when that happens would likely be the most helpful.
To me this is a management problem that should be addressed by the administration. The union should only get involved when this member is displined. they should make sure that the member is getting due process and recieving fair and equitable (on the members side) punitive actions.
IMO the union should not be involved in the delivery of the punitive action. they should serve as a "big brother" to the member to ensure fairness.
On the unoffical side of the fence you need to continue to motivate your brother to do the right thing and show up to work. explain to him his actions are affecting the brothers coming off duty and hurting his shift by them having to take a non regular firefighter on the shift. explain to him that with no sick time he is screwed if he substains an off duty injury.
i think that in this case leaving a taco bell application in his mailbox is not the right form of motivation. this is just going to cause him to feel isolated and discourage him. positive form of motivation are what is needed. the fact of the matter is that management sounds like it is not going to do anything to solve the problem. by you taunting him and isolating him actually could cause you and the other good employees to get hemmed up with a hostile work place charge. watch your step!
You may benefit your membership by doing nothing. If the management does nothing this will set a pattern which could help in the future. Someday a new guy with little acrued sick time will get hurt off duty and legitimately use up all his sick time. If the management tries to take his pay away you can argue that the management has established a past practice of carrying sick members. Or something along this line.
sick time is time that the employee has generated. therefore, it is his time to use. regardless of he abuses it or not, it is time given to him by the city.
the only time a city should come down on him, regardless of him using it is if he is out of it, which it sounds like he is.
I have to disagree with a few here, but I do it with respect.
Originally Posted by localpres
As you stated, you have a small Local. While you indicate that a sick day causes overtime, this is common in many departments. But the bigger picture is if the town begins to run out of the fire budget. This effects all of you and may/will cause the town to re-evaluate the policy. While you do not have a responsibility to intervene now, you may not have any way to protect him later. You do have a responsibility to yourselves however. There is nothing wrong with policing your own.
I know of a town that is considering giving furloughs to guys that exceed their alloted sick days and replace them with part-time personnel. They are also considering using part-timers to cover all sick days instead of filling-in from full-time personnel. So, effectively, that will end over-time except for call-backs or all-calls.
In that situation, they had several guys that were abusing the sick days and did not provide the doctors verification time after time... always a lame or evasive answer. That is a no-no within the scope of the Local Contract, and there is nothing about Due Process protecting one's lack of judgement. You can stand up and say anything, but you must prove it. So the way a few perform, does affect everyone when it comes to issues like this.
I understand wanting to take a day off, but you must be willing to play within the rules or risk suspension or termination. If a note is required, you better have the note, and if you are suppose to be at home, you better have a good reason if you're not.
So I do see an issue here when the rest of you believe the actions of one person puts your job or wages at risk. I have never understood why there is a great divide between the Town/City and the Locals. Just because you belong to a Local does not mean you can't partner with the jurisdiction to do a better job. When one of your guys is known to abuse the rules, many would state that we need to protect him because he is one of ours. So what happens if everyone goes down in flames? <--- not just the firefighters, but the city and the citizens as well.
With budgets sinking and belts tightening, everyone must remember we are all in this recession together. If the town/City wants to end a contract, they can and will do it, citing lack of funds. I invite you to read about Vallejo CA.
It isn't about bad mis-management over a long period of time, or the current management... it is about how are we going to get out of it. Everyone is affected, and everyone is expendable. Raising taxes is getting met with stif resisitance everywhere right now, so something will have to give... maybe a lot of things.
Taking the attitude that "I can do this because I can" is only part of the problem. A job is not an entitlement and you must be responsible for what you do.
So I applaude the fact that you guys are concerned about trying to intervene on his behalf. Most likely he will lose his job. The rest of you must cover your own butts and not fall into his pattern. Sometimes "stepping up" doesn't have anything to do with a call... it is called character.
Job of the Union Rep
I think the job of the Union Representative is pretty cut and dried. Once a bargaining agreement is in place, it is the job of the union rep to police that agreement. You make sure they do what is stipulated in the agreement and you make sure you do what is stipulated in the agreement. The job is much easier when they are the ones violating the agreement than when it is you violating the agreement. If your people are the ones in violation you have an obligation to those members playing within the rules to do all you can to convince the violator to get it right.