When snow and ice blanketed Middle Tennessee in February and March, Metro Parks – like many other city departments – wrestled with how to keep services going without putting employees at risk unnecessarily. But what the Parks department came up with wasn’t consistent. When the Mayor ordered the parks and community centers closed, most employees were not penalized and they were granted administrative leave to make sure they didn’t lose any pay or accrued time. But the rule wasn’t applied equally. Custodians and groundskeepers at several facilities, for example, were forced to use their own comp or vacation days instead of being given the option of using admin. leave like other staff.
Frustrated with the unfairness of that procedure, a Parks employee who is a member of Local 205 picked up the phone and called the Union office to tell us about it. An SEIU representative contacted Parks administration to try and get clarity on what happened and why. In the end, Parks officials chalked it up to a misunderstanding and as a result, those custodians and groundskeepers had their comp and vacation days returned to them. “It just didn’t seem fair that they would penalize us for missing a day of work because of the weather – especially when it was the Mayor who ordered the facilities shut down,” said the Parks department union member. “And then, to find out that the other staff didn’t lose any days while we did… well, that was uncalled for. We are all city employees and we need to be treated the same in a situation like that.”
It is important that when situations like this arise, that employees take a pro-active role and let the Union know about it. Whether that means talking to a Shop Steward or calling the Union office directly, workers should never assume that the Local knows what is going on in their area. We can’t be everywhere at once and we can’t help fix a problem if we don’t know there’s a problem in the first place. Luckily, in this case, our member was pro-active and as a result, he and his co-workers had their time restored.