Western Trustee Expresses Concerns Over Employee Grievance Procedures

Western Trustee Expresses Concerns Over Employee Grievance Procedures

Western Wyoming Community College Trustee Neil Kourbelas expressed concerns over Western's Grievance Procedures. Western Website photo

ROCK SPRINGS — A proposed minor change in Western Wyoming Community College employee grievance procedures, put forward by Board Chair Jim Jessen, resulted in Trustee Neil Kourbelas raising concerns about the current language within the existing policy which he felt had been overlooked.

The current policy, 7610A, adopted back in 1989 and most recently revised in 2014, well before Kourbelas’ time on the Board, states in part. “The Board wishes to maintain open lines of communication with college personnel. Requests for Board action, suggestions, and complaints from employees will be presented to the Board through established channels. Communication with the Board on these and other job-related matters will proceed from the employee, to the employee’s immediate supervisor, to the Vice President, to the College President, to the Board…”

The Policy language goes on to mention that employees do have the option to address the Board of Trustees at their monthly meetings, and that any employee who feels he or she has been treated unfairly does have the option to file a grievance in accord with Policy and Procedure 4430B.

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The Jessen-proposed change would simply delete the words “…and other job-related…” and instead would have the policy simplify the language to say only “…these matters…” Kourbelas objected to the word “will” in the current policy and said that instead the Policy should state “preferred”, as in the “preferred” method of employee communication regarding a grievance should follow established procedures up the Western chain of command prior to submitting a grievance or grievances directly to the Board.

Kourbelas expressed concern that employees, as constituents of the elected Board the same as any other citizens, should have the option to come to the Board directly with a concern or complaint.

“A critical component of democracy is communication,” Kourbelas said. His key point was that, while Western staff members are employees of Western President Dr. Kim Dale, they are still constituents of the elected Board of Trustees, no different than anyone else in the community. As a result, Board members should be able to have two-way communication with Western employees, if the employee so desires.

Currently, Kourbelas said, Board members can discuss “playing golf” with Western employees, but cannot discuss a suggestion, an idea, or a complaint.

“What do constituents really want to talk with their elected representatives about?” Kourbelas asked his fellow Board members rhetorically.

When the Board began discussing the hiring of a consultant to review Policy 7610A, Kourbelas objected that a legal review was unnecessary saying “The question is pretty simple—are we going to fulfill our elected responsibilities?”

In the end, the Board voted 5-2, with Trustees Kourbelas and Stephen Allen objecting, to hire a consultant to review the policy wording. Trustees Jim Jessen, Jenissa Meredith, Kenneth Lorimer, Regina Clark, and Ron Wild voted to hire a consultant. The Board then voted unanimously to hire an attorney as the consultant.

See the document below to review the entire policy.

Salary Increases Coming

Based on the recommendation of President Date, the Board voted a salary increase of 4.5 percent, effective with the July 2023 pay period, for the following groups: full-time faculty, full time/ administrative/professional, full-time paraprofessionals, part-time benefited administrative/professional, part-time benefited paraprofessionals, part-time non-benefited administrative/professionals, and part-time non-benefited paraprofessionals.

Under the new agreement, a full-time professor would make a minimum of $56,238 as per a nine-month faculty contract, with a midpoint salary of $76,886 and a maximum of $97,534, with prorations for shorter or longer contract lengths.

The midpoint salary for an instructor/lecturer will be $57,368, with the minimum and maximum figures at $46,753 and $67,983, respectively. The midpoint salary figure for an assistant professor will be $60,134, with the minimum and maximum figures being $47,366 and $72,903, respectively. The respective figures for an associate professor will be $65,442, $49,993, and $80,890.

Adjunct faculty compensation per credit hour will be increased by 4.5 percent from $850 to $888.25 effective with the July 2023 pay period.