Helping agencies provide avenue for grievance resolution at Wright-Patt

ajc.com

Meeting aimed at strengthening processes, relationships

A forum to develop and streamline the operations of base helping agencies that best serve personnel across the installation was recently hosted by the 88th Air Base Wing Inspector General’s Office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Officials from the 88 ABW Equal Opportunity Office, 88th Force Support Squadron’s Employee and Labor-Management Relations section and IG offices at WPAFB participated in the April 21 event. They reviewed ELMR support and services provided to command teams and employees.

One civilian personnel matter that falls within ELMR’s area of responsibility is complaints, including an EO or IG grievance. Officials said determining whether the individual is a bargaining unit employee or not is key.

Employees can determine their bargaining unit status by reviewing the code cited on their position description or contacting the Civilian Personnel Office. Nonbargaining unit employees may use the Agency Grievance System and must file within 15 days of an incident, or when the employee reasonably should have become aware of it.

There are two steps to the AGS process: informal and formal. An employee can elect to use the informal-grievance process to attempt to resolve the issue at the lowest level. If he or she is not satisfied with the outcome, they may request alternative-dispute resolution. However, the employee can also elect to skip the informal step and use the formal process if they so desire. In the formal process, the deciding official will review and consider the grievance’s circumstances and render a written decision.

If the individual is a bargaining unit employee, the agency refers that person to their union representatives, officials said. They are the employee’s exclusive representatives for advisory services. The applicable collective-bargaining agreement specifies the grievance process.

For example, the negotiated-grievance procedure cited in the Master Labor Agreement between Air Force Materiel Command and American Federation of Government Employees Council 214 is the mechanism for union bargaining unit employees.

Grievances are submitted on AFMC Form 913 (Standard Grievance Form) to the supervisor within 20 calendar days of the management-action date, giving rise to the potential grievance or reasonable awareness of such action.A Step 1 designated management official conducts a meeting to hear the grievance’s circumstances. After sufficient review and consideration, the DMO renders a written decision. If the DMO denies the grievance at Step 1, the employee may elevate it to Step 2, where the complaint will be sufficiently reviewed, considered and a written decision issued.

The Equal Opportunity Office provides support directly to the wing commander and entire base population. EO serves as the central point for all complaints of unlawful discrimination, to include sexual harassment, hazing and bullying. The office offers a variety of services such as informal assistance, counseling, referral, education, climate assessments, incident clarifications and subject-matter expertise for commander-worked issues.

The inspector general serves as an extension of the commander by acting as the eyes and ears to be alert to issues affecting the organization. A successful complaint-resolution program is designed to enhance the organization’s discipline, readiness and warfighting capability. The IG plays a vital role in each organization and provides services to all military and civilian personnel, retirees and family members.

Examples of assistance include: fraud, waste, and abuse or gross mismanagement issues; a violation of law, policy, procedures, instructions or regulations; an injustice; abuse of authority, pay issues, care access, hostile work environment, nepotism, privatized housing, inappropriate conduct, misconduct, and allegations of restriction or reprisal.

The IG office offers an environment where “we will listen, discuss and identify possible solutions to whatever is on the person’s mind,” said Dennis Lange, chief of Complaints, Resolution and Inquiries. “All conversations are considered a protected communication and will not leave the office unless the person elects to file a complaint.

”Individuals have the option to file anonymously or make their identities known.

”It is as simple as, if we treat each other with dignity, honor and respect, we can reduce many of the issues employees experience within the workplace,” he added. “The key takeaway is there are many resources available to assist you. More importantly, please know we deliberately work to improve relationships among the helping agencies. We must understand each other’s specific processes so we can more efficiently and effectively serve you. We truly are here to help.”

About the Author