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Guidance on Grievance Procedure

Several resources are available to help local governments meet the deadline for the new requirement to create an Employee Grievance Policy.  Wisconsin Act 10, also called the Budget Repair Bill, made profound changes to local government relations with their employees.  The effect on union employees is well known from local and national media coverage of the debates, protests and lawsuits.  The new law ushers in changes for all local governments, not just those that previously had union contracts.

All local governments are required to create and adopt by October 1, 2010 either a civil service system or an employee grievance policy.  This is apparently intended as a trade off for the severe limitations on public employee union bargaining.  Sec. 60.0509(1m) Wis. Stats, mandates that a grievance policy be initiated to address employee termination, discipline and workplace safety in either a stand-alone policy or as part of a civil service system.   Most communities will opt for only a grievance policy over the formalities and structures of a civil service system.

Responding to the changes resources have been prepared to assist grievance policy development and implementation.  The Local Government Center and Wisconsin Towns Association 2011 Budget and Finance Workshops presented in in September had a session presented by Attorney Philip Freeburg of the Local Government Center on the Grievance policy and other employee relation issues.  A video of that session will be posted at the Wisconsin Towns Association Website as part of their video subscription service.   Several articles and sample policies are available from the Towns Association and the League of Municipalities.  Attorney Carol Nawrocki has an article in the Wisconsin Towns Association August newsletter on creating a grievance policy and a sample policy is available online on the Towns Association websiteThe League of Municipalities magazine also has an article in its August issue by Attorney Francis Perky and a short and longer form model policy available at the League website.  The law firm of Philips Borowski, S.C., who advise the Wisconsin Counties Association, authored an outline on Grievance Procedure Principles.   The Local Government Center presented a WisLine on the Grievance Procedure on  October 4, 2010, with Attorneys Dan Borowski and Philip Freeburg.  A recording of the program and materials can be purchased from Local Government Center.

- Philip Freeburg