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Sick of Sick Notes: Wayne MVC Workers Score Big Grievance Victory

sickWorkers at the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission have expressed their frustration with agency managers violating their contractual rights at the workplace. While it is clear that a medical note is required when out for three days or more, managers have unilaterally decided to disregard the union contract by requiring workers provide medical documentation for use of one sick day, with no history of abuse of sick time. Workers have also railed against management unreasonably denying vacation time and their refusal to share the vacation schedule calendar with workers.

On March 13, 2014, the workers at the Wayne Motor Vehicle Agency decided to take action and filed a group grievance to address these issues. This grievance impacts agencies across the state. On May 5, the Wayne agency workers prevailed in their grievance won a major victory for themselves and all agency workers.

The grievance, signed by 15 workers, claims a violation of Article 22-6.a of the union contract and reads, “Employees unreasonably denied time off even if sick, need a doctor’s note.”

The hearing officer, who referred to the above article of the CWA contract and Civil Service Regulations in his decision, agreed with the workers and delivered a major victory.

His decision stated, “Management is therefore instructed to stop requiring medical notes for employees whom they do not have a reason to believe are abusing their sick time, or in the alternative, a specific time that history indicates will foster abuse of sick time.”

The group grievance also included a non-contractual violation which read management “Denied access to the vacation calendar to schedule time off.” This was filed because workers were unreasonably denied vacation requests by the agency manager. When workers would ask why their vacation was denied, they would be told “operational need” or “too many people are out”, but management would not provide any evidence and kept vacation schedules secret.

In his decision, the hearing officer again agreed with the workers and wrote, “Management must come up with a reasonable plan to ensure that all employees who would like to see the vacation calendar are able to do so.”

Regarding the grievances, Laurie Taylor, CWA Local 1037 Staff Representative stated, “The outcome of the grievances represents a victory for workers at motor vehicle agencies. Despite what they may believe, local agency managers must abide by our contract and now we have it in writing. Shop Stewards and workers can use these decisions to enforce their rights at the workplace.”