Porfirio Cervantez is a dedicated Santa Cruz County Public Works employee. With more than 400 hours of PTO on the books, he rarely takes time off. But every now and then, Porfirio needed a day off to help drive a friend to Stanford for cancer treatment, which management knew about. So the time-off request he submitted last April should have come as no surprise. Porfirio even wrote his reason for the request on the form. Unfortunately, management ignored the request, but later claimed it had been denied.
When Porfirio questioned management about the denial, they kept shifting their explanations. They didn’t care that his friend had been left stranded without transportation for essential medical care. So Porfirio contacted his steward to help him file a grievance under Article 16.2(C)(4) of our contract, which prohibits management from arbitrarily denying time-off requests.
Before the grievance meeting could occur, we were saddened to learn that Porfirio’s friend had passed away. As a remedy, we asked management to issue an apology letter to his friend’s family for interfering with his cancer treatment. Not surprisingly, management refused.
Although we will never know if management’s actions hastened the outcome for Porfirio’s friend, their overall attitude toward the situation was extremely callous and insensitive. At least County Personnel issued a response acknowledging that management failed to follow the rules, despite their unwillingness to apologize for anything.
“I felt management wasn’t treating me fairly, and I wanted to stand up and fix this so it doesn’t happen again,” said Porfirio. “After filing the grievance, I can tell that management is actually listening to what I have to say now. They are treating me better and hearing me out. As union members, we should all be standing up for our rights so that management respects us and the work we do.”