Havre Daily News
The president of the Montana State University-Northern staff members' union today said he will forward a grievance to the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education after it was rejected by an MSU-N official.
Bob Kurtz, who took the reins as union leader Wednesday, filed a grievance against MSU-N vice chancellor Chuck Jensen and interim dean Will Rawn, alleging the pair violated contract provisions, state law and Weingarten Rights, which ensure employees the right to union representation during investigatory interviews.
Jensen on April 7 denied the grievance. In a letter, Jensen said Kurtz's grievance “contains no explanation or presentation of facts to support a finding of any violations.”
Kurtz and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees representative Pete Parsons declined to comment further.
Jensen and Rawn could not be reached for comment.
MSU-N provost Cheri Jimeno today said she could not answer any questions regarding the grievance because it is a “personnel issue.” In the grievance, Kurtz alleges that Rawn and Jensen acted improperly when they asked him to take on more duties.
Kurtz's wife, Joanna, recently retired from the university. An administrative assistant, she was responsible for maintaining student files, organizing paperwork that dealt with students' practicum and student-teaching placements, and handling graduation paperwork.
Bob Kurtz, who serves as graduate program assistant, was suspended for 2 days without pay on March 24. He has said the suspension resulted from his refusal to take on his wife's former duties. Joanna Kurtz's position will not be filled and her work will be spread among other staffers, university officials have said.
Rawn, in a letter dated March 27, said Bob Kurtz's suspension was the result of his refusal of a directive to keep and maintain student records and files.
In his grievance, Bob Kurtz said that the university failed to notify him of the duration of his additional job and the wage rate. He also claimed that Jensen denied his right to fair and unbiased arbitration in the dispute over the work assignment.
He requested that any mention of the incident be purged from his personnel file and asked for replacement of lost wages and benefits.
In his letter denying the grievance, Jensen itemized Bob Kurtz's complaints and denied each of the alleged violations. He wrote that Weingarten Rights refer to investigatory interviews, “not to the issuance of work directives ....” He also wrote that he could not respond to allegations that state law was violated because Bob Kurtz had failed to specify laws he was referring to in the grievance.