Instructional Assistant Reinstated After Successful Arbitration

Alexis Article Header

SEIU Local 73 was successful in getting Alexis Juarez, Instructional Assistant at Maywood-Melrose Park School District No. 89, reinstated to his job with full back pay, seniority, and benefits.

Alexis was wrongfully terminated last year after being gravely injured and unable to work. Management was aware of Alexis’ injuries yet chose to threaten him with a write-up for not recording his absences in a timely manner. Alexis communicated with administrative staff about his health, but management escalated their threats and demanded a doctor’s note. Even though Alexis provided the doctor’s note the next day, he was terminated.

“I felt very confused because I was hurt; I felt like I was talking to a wall. I couldn’t comprehend how to fix everything,” said Alexis. “That’s when it clicked for me. I remembered my union representative told me to call them if I ever had a problem.”

Alexis reached out to his Local 73 union representative, who filed a grievance. Throughout the process, management made many attempts to undermine the integrity of the grievance procedure. The Assistant Superintendent unilaterally appointed themselves as the employer representative and, on a call with a union representative the day of Alexis’ termination, claimed the issue couldn’t be resolved. The Assistant Superintendent also claimed that the union wasn’t following the grievance steps correctly and declared the grievance withdrawn due to the union’s alleged untimeliness.

Arbitrator Glenn Newman, however, decided otherwise. He found the District failed to follow the requirements outlined in the contract and properly follow the grievance process. Arbitrator Newman also used strong language to describe how the District’s actions were an attempt to sidetrack the grievance procedure on technicalities. He ruled Alexis’ discharge should be reduced to a written warning and ordered his reinstatement with full benefits and backpay.

“I’m happy to have my job back and be back working with special education students.”