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UPD, officers settle labor case

The University, two former University Police Department officers and their union have reached a settlement over charges filed last year stemming from complaints that GW engaged in unfair labor practices.

Two cases were settled Jan. 28 through the National Labor Relations Board – which enforces the National Labor Relations Act and investigates allegations that employers have violated the law – but remain open pending final compliance, according to an NLRB representative.

An NLRB notice to University employees signed by UPD Chief Kevin Hay was posted in UPD’s Woodhull House Feb. 11, following terms of the settlement between the University and the charging parties – former officer Darren Braun and the International Union, Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America, or SPFPA.

The notice states that GW won’t unlawfully deny union representation or suspend employees for invoking that right, among other specific references to Braun and another former officer, Gervais Mbunkeu.

Emily Hunt, the NLRB compliance officer handling the cases, said the notice – which outlines what the department agrees to do in response to the charges – was the remedy to the cases, and that the notice must be posted for 60 days to meet compliance.

If the University doesn’t violate the terms of the agreement within that time period, the cases will be officially closed.

“It’s a pretty straightforward process,” Hunt said.

One case, previously reported by The Hatchet in August 2010, was filed by Braun on July 26. It alleged that GW engaged in unfair labor practices according to Section 8 of the National Labor Relations Act.

Braun claimed GW discriminated against him beginning in May 2010 “with regard to his terms and conditions of employment, including giving him an unsatisfactory performance appraisal, extending his probationary employee period and requiring him to attend customer service training because of his activities” on behalf of SPFPA.

The department is removing all references to the above incidents from his personnel file, as well as references to a suspension that occurred after he refused to attend a meeting without a union rep, according to the posted noticed at UPD.

Braun also claimed he was discriminated against when assigned “onerous working conditions because of his activities on behalf” of the union.

Braun resigned from employment at GW Aug. 6, 2010. He said Wednesday he was “very pleased” with the outcome of the case.

“I thank GW for resolving these issues, as it will make both UPD and GW more prosperous in the future,” Braun said.

Hunt said in Braun’s case, a complaint was issued and an NLRB regional director outlined the allegations for an administrative law judge of the NLRB.

Both his case and the other filed by SPFPA were settled before a hearing was held.

No financial settlement was involved in either case.

“The National Labor Relations Act does not include in its remedies any fines or penalties,” Hunt said.

In some cases a “back pay remedy” can be used, where employees would have to show a loss of income to be awarded lost pay.

“Here the settlement agreement does not include a back pay remedy,” Hunt said.

Separate charges were filed with the NLRB by the union’s Local 294 Aug. 20, on behalf of former officer Mbunkeu. The charging document states that GW denied his request to be represented by the SPFPA union during an investigatory interview and refused to provide requested information to the union.

He said he was called in for a meeting July 27 with then Interim UPD Chief James Isom – who passed away Tuesday – to give a statement about why he wasn’t at a building on his patrol when an incident occurred.

Mbunkeu told the supervisors that he wanted a union representative, but Isom told him that he didn’t have the right to one since he was a new probationary officer at the time.

“Probation officers do have the right to a union rep,” Mbunkeu said, although he said the union cannot file a grievance until an officer is off probation.

Although a union representative walked in the conference room during their meeting, Mbunkeu said the representative was told to leave and he was denied a union rep, even after Mbunkeu pointed to a line of a letter Isom gave him that stated UPD policy and his right to representation.

Once Mbunkeu did this, “[Isom] snatched the paper from my hand,” he said. Mbunkeu claims Isom went back into his office and deleted the line saying employees have a right to a union rep.

The University declined to comment on this allegation.

Mbunkeu signed the new letter Isom had typed and told members of the union what happened the following day. Mbunkeu’s complaint was then added to Braun’s original complaint.

Mbunkeu received a call from Isom Aug. 6 and was told that his employment at GW was terminated. Official charges with the NLRB followed, and he filed a discrimination complaint in November with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – a D.C. agency that seeks to protect employees from discrimination in the workplace – against GW that is still pending.

Braun also filed a complaint with the EEOC alleging that Isom and other UPD supervisors discriminated against him. Braun said Wednesday that his EEOC case was resolved, but didn’t offer details.

A UPD officer familiar with the case said Friday that the NLRB notice now posted speaks for itself.

“We had these issues for a while,” he said. “Hopefully [the notice] will pave the way for some reform.”

The officer said the notice in Woodhull House is basically GW saying it won’t do what’s listed again.

UPD Chief Kevin Hay declined to comment for this article, referring The Hatchet to University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard for a statement.

“The University does not comment on personnel matters,” Sherrard said.

UPD lawsuit timeline

July 26, 2010
Former officer Darren Braun files a complaint
alleging GW engaged in unfair labor practices.
Aug. 6, 2010
Braun resigns from UPD; former UPD officer
Gervais Mbunkeu is
terminated from his job at the University.
Aug. 20, 2010
Mbunkeu files
a discrimination complaint
against GW.
Jan. 28, 2011
Case settled.
Feb. 11, 2011
Notice of settlement posted.

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