SWOCCFT local 3190 leaders Cheryl Davies and Carolyn Byrd who were instrumental in the grievance process pose for a photo at AFT-Oregon Convention April 2015. Photo by Bernadette Kapocias
Posted: Aug. 11, 2015 at 12:00 p.m.
Edit: Aug. 12, 2015 at 9:44 a.m.
It’s been nothing but victories for the AFT-Oregon workers at Southwestern Oregon Community College.
After Southwestern Oregon Community College Classified Federation (SWOCCCF) local 3972’s back pay victory the members of Southwestern Oregon Community College Federation of Teachers (SWOCCFT) local 3190 won a former professor’s job back.
“We spent a lot of time trying to figure out what was going on and the college made getting accurate information a hassle,” President of SWOCCFT, local 3190, Bernadette Kapocias said.
The professor, who did not want to be named, was removed from the job because of budgeting reasons however the employer immediately refilled the role with someone new. Under the union contract this is not allowed. The employer cannot replace the positions from laid off workers within a certain time period.
The union stood for its workers and filed a grievance. SWOCCFT quickly won the arbitration case, but the employer did not comply. Thus more paperwork was filed, eventually the union’s fight paid off and the college gave back the employee’s job, and contractually promised not to touch the position for four years.
Additionally the college’s administration had to pay some of the union’s legal fees.
“When we first filed this grievance our local was not used to filing grievances and it was a very hand wringing experience,” Kapocias said. “We knew it was the right thing, and we had to do it.”
This learning experience was eye opening to the local. SWOCCFT has since filed a number of other grievances.
SWOCCFT workers are making their voice heard and using their collective power to stand up for themselves and make education at their college better.
“It’s really easy for administration to pick on one individual person but when you stand together that’s a powerful thing,” Kapocias said.