I have normally recommended that UFT members use the grievance process when it is available for contract violations. However, the process, except for programming reorganization cases, is extremely slow and whether it is fair or not, is certainly subject to debate.
As a response to the Gretchen Carlson firing by Fox News, Carlson sued Fox News head Roger Ailes. Fox News has responded by invoking the mandatory arbitration clause in Carlson's contract. This clause says that she must use arbitration rather than the courts to settle employment disputes. The arbitration would fall under the American Arbitration Association, the same AAA that handles UFT arbitration proceedings.
What is interesting about the Carlson case to me is not so much some of the salacious details of the lawsuit (well they are kind of interesting), as the way the suit has shed light on the arbitration process and how it is skewed toward the bosses and against employees. According to a report by the Economic Policy Institute, employees are more likely to lose in arbitration as opposed to court.
Granted, Fox News and other mandatory arbitration employment contracts addressed by the Economic Policy Institute are from non-union work places. However, since we use the same American Arbitration, the UFT needs to come forward and tell the members how we are doing with the American Arbitration Association in both the grievance process and in dismissal hearings (AAA provides the list of arbitrators that we must agree to for the dismissal hearings according to the contract).
The UFT should crunch the numbers and release them to the membership so our members know the chances of prevailing in arbitration or dismissal hearings.
At the Executive Board and/or the Delegate Assembly, these questions should be addressed:
1-How many grievances were filed at Step I over the last three years by UFT members?
2-How many grievances were resolved at Step I?
3-How many grievances did members want appealed to the Chancellor's level (Step 2)?
4-How many grievances did the Union take to Step 2?
5-How many grievances were won or resolved at Step 2?
6-Of the grievances not won or resolved at Step 2, how many did the Union take to arbitration?
7-How many grievances were won or resolved at arbitration?
8-How many were lost at arbitration?
9-How many UFT members faced dismissal hearings in the last three years (3020a/3012c)?
10-How many UFT members won their dismissal hearings outright?
11-How many UFT members were terminated in dismissal hearings?
12-What were the results of the cases that were not won or lost outright (fines, suspensions, classes)?
13-How many paraprofessionals were subjected to firing appealed through the grievance process?
14-What were the results of the paraprofessional dismissal cases?
Feel free to add or subtract from the list or change it as you see fit.