Section 3. Union Stewards and Official Representatives
The County and Unions agree that professional, productive, and positive labor relations can be accomplished when Union and County representatives work together to support the services we provide to the public. To support this philosophy, the parties have agreed to the provisions regarding attendance at meetings and handling of meetings. Paid release time is intended to support the collaboration and cooperative spirit of labor relations by ensuring that Union members have access to resources designed to help support their continued success as public employees and that Union leads have an opportunity to work together to support the success of their members.
3.1 Attendance at Meetings
Extra-help employees who are official representatives or Stewards of the Union shall be given reasonable time off with pay, including reasonable travel time, during attendance at a formal meet and confer session, consultation with management representatives on matters within the scope of representation, or being present at hearings where matters within the scope of representation are being considered, to testify or appear as the designated representative of the Union in settlement conferences, hearing, or other proceedings before PERB, in matters relating to an unfair practice charge, or to testify or appear as the designated representative of the Union in matters before the Civil Service Commission, when the time spent coincides with their pre-scheduled work day/shift. The use of official time for this purpose shall be reasonable and shall not interfere with the performance of County services as determined by the County. Such representatives or stewards shall submit written requests for excused absences to Employee and Labor Relations at least two (2) working days prior to the scheduled meeting whenever possible.
Except by agreement with Employee and Labor Relations, the number of extra-help employees excused for such purposes shall not exceed one (1) per Union.
3.2 Successor MOU Negotiations
Extra-help employees who are official representatives or Stewards of the Union shall be given reasonable time off with pay, including reasonable travel time, during attendance for formal contract negotiations on successor MOU’s. The number of extra-help employees excused for such purposes shall not exceed four (4) per Union.
Paid release time for formal negotiations shall not be provided for stewards who are not extra-help to represent extra- help employees, other than (a) a maximum of one regular employee from each Union, and (b) a representative or steward who moves from extra-help to regular status during a given set of negotiations shall continue to be provided paid release time for those negotiations.
If any extra-help employee’s request for excused absence is not approved, such disapproval shall be subject to appeal to the Human Resources Director whose decision shall be final.
The Union shall be allowed up to 35 hours of unpaid release time per calendar year for official representatives and stewards to conduct necessary internal union business. Requests for time shall be made to the extra-help employee’s department head at least fourteen (14) days in advance.
Extra-help shop stewards working P.M. shifts shall be provided with two (2) hours of unpaid release time each month to attend Steward Council Meetings, not to exceed four (4) times per year. It is acknowledged that San Mateo Medical Center Administration will attempt to provide such release time, but that each instance must be considered on a case-by-case basis and the County shall not unreasonably deny requests.
Any denial of requested time off may be appealed to the Director of Human Resources, whose decision shall be final.
All approved release time will be coded appropriately on the employee’s timecard using pay code RTE. Time spent in meetings with the County on matters listed in Section 3, which occur outside of the employee’s regular work schedule, is not compensable. Employees should not code release time for such time when the employee is not scheduled to work.
Paid release time is authorized for the following activities:
Posting Union Notices in County designated/authorized locations;
Transmitting communications authorized by the Local Union or its Officers to the County or their representative;
Attending Labor-Management meetings;
Meetings with County management concerning the enforcement of any provision of this Agreement or matters within scope of representation;
Investigating and processing grievances;
Attending Union meetings.
Paid release time is not authorized to be used for:
Distributing political information or advocating support for political candidates, ballot initiatives, or other legislation;
Conducting membership drives or soliciting membership from other County employees or applicants;
Any activity that is precluded by law or County policy as a conflict of interest, or that may be perceived as a conflict of interest based on the employment of the individual by the County;
Any political activity, that is prohibited by law or County policy, of public employees during the course and scope of their employment;
Personal use of County paid release time on non-Union or labor relations matters.
3.3 Handling of Grievances
The Union shall designate a reasonable number of extra-help Stewards to assist in resolving grievances. The designation will depend on such circumstances as geographical locations, hours of employment, and departmental organizational structure. The Union shall notify the Director of Human Resources in writing of the individuals so designated. Alternates may be designated to perform steward functions only during the absence or unavailability of the stewards except by mutual agreement of the parties.
Extra-help stewards may be relieved from their assigned work duties by their supervisors to investigate and process grievances initiated by other extra-help employees within the same representation unit. Requests for release time shall not be denied unreasonably. Extra-help stewards shall promptly report to the Union any grievances which may arise and cannot be adjusted on the job. Supervisory extra-help employees shall not represent non-supervisory extra-help employees in a grievance procedure where such activity might result in a conflict of interest. If an extra-help steward is relieved from their duties to investigate and process a grievance, other stewards shall not be released for that grievance.
Whenever an extra-help employee is required to meet with a supervisor and the extra-help employee reasonably anticipates that such meeting will involve questioning leading to disciplinary action, they shall be entitled to have a steward present if they so request. Only one (1) steward may attend such meetings. It is not the intention of this provision to allow the presence of a steward during the initial discussion(s) of an extra-help employee’s performance evaluation.