I am a union "protected" full-time/regular employee of a hospital. There was a vacant position for which I applied in the same department and classification but different hours. Per our union contract the most senior employee that applies for any union position gets the job. HR called me and offered me the job and I accepted it. Two days later they called and said "there has been some oversight" and they have to retract the offer because someone more senior had applied. There is nothing about this in our union contract! Is there any law that applies to this situation? Does the employer now have to create 2 of the same position? One for the most senior employee and one for me because they offered it to me, I accepted, so now they have to honor that verbal contract? Hope this makes sense
You could file a grievance, but I don't think that it will go anywhere. The company made an error by not selecting the most senior person, and then they corrected the error. That is what the company should do. Under the union contract rules, you weren't entitled to the vacant position to begin with because a more senior person also applied. I assume that you still have the job you were in before all of this took place. Other than getting your hopes up, you really haven't been damaged. It would not be reasonable or fair to expect the company to create a second vacancy that it doesn't really need.
Mr. Jackson gives you good advice. You say that your collective bargaining agreement specifically provides that the applicant with the most seniority will get the job. That's how most collective bargaining agreements work. You also say that after you had been offered, and accepted, the job, you were told that someone more senior had applied and that the company had erred in offering you the job.
You then say "there is nothing about this in our union contract." Yes there is: The employee with the most seniority gets the job. You should examine (or have an attorney examine) the collective bargaining agreement to see whether more senior employees have the right to "bump" other employees; if so, I think that probably ends the inquiry. If not, I imagine that the way to be offered a position and the way to accept a position is in writing. Here, there was only what you characterize as a "verbal contract."
As Mr. Jackson advises, you could file a grievance. Based on the facts in your posting, I doubt that the grievance will be successful, but without actually seeing the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement, it's difficult to say with much certainty.
You may wish to consult with your union representative, who should be familiar with the issues that you raise.
Good luck to you.
Michael S. Haber is a New York attorney. As such, his responses to posted inquiries, such as the one above, are limited to his understanding of law in the jurisdiction in which he practices and not to any other jurisdiction. In addition, no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to constitute legal advice, nor to constitute the existence of an attorney/client or other contractual or fiduciary relationship, inasmuch as rendering legal advice involves the ability of the attorney to ask appropriate questions of the person seeking such advice and to thus gather appropriate information. In addition, an attorney/client relationship is formed only by specific agreement. The purpose of this answer is to provide the questioner with general information, not to outline specific legal rights and remedies.
I concur with both Mr. Jackson and Mr. Haber. In all events, the employer will not be required to create a second unnecessary (based on the employer's needs) position in order to rectify this error.
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