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Negotiating Favorable Contract Language

The ADA states that collective bargaining agreements can be taken into consideration when making a reasonable accommodation or when deciding whether an accommodation will cause an undue hardship. However, the law does not spell out what happens if the ADA conflicts with certain provisions of a collective bargaining agreement, such as seniority clauses. For this reason and in order to ensure that AFSCME members reap the most benefits from the ADA, the following are examples of suggested contract language:

  • Non-discrimination

    Include "persons with disabilities" in the classes in the contract's discrimination clause.

    Every contract should include persons with disabilities as a protected class. This enables a person with a disability to file a grievance under the contract in addition to seeking remedies under the law.

  • General compliance

    "This contract shall comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act."

    In addition to enabling a person with a disability to use the contract's grievance procedure, this clause will protect the union should the federal government release any future interpretations of the ADA which conflict with the existing collective bargaining agreement.

  • Joint labor/management committee

    "In accordance with the employer's obligation to practice non-discrimination in all phases of employment of persons with disabilities and to promote sensitivity for all employees, a joint committee of labor and management will be established. The committee shall meet on a quarterly basis."

    This committee can monitor problems that members with disabilities have not only at work, but also outside the workplace. Committee members can develop employer-wide programs such as training on the ADA, sensitivity training, and sign language classes. The committee can work to resolve reasonable accommodation problems, create a resource and referral service for people with disabilities, and track relevant legislation.

  • Union representation

    "During the process to identify a reasonable accommodation, the employee has the right to have union representation, if he or she so chooses."

    The ADA suggests that an employer should consult with the employee with a disability to identify potential reasonable accommodations. This recommended clause permits the employee to have union representation present if he or she so desires.

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