Our contract with San Benito County guarantees that workers will receive paid bereavement leave to attend to the death of an immediate family member. When Marisol Linares needed to invoke this right after her father passed away in another country, her managers refused to approve her leave without certification of her father’s death. Since it was not possible for Marisol to provide certification, she was forced to use her personal leave accruals.
Marisol contacted her union steward to help her file a grievance because our contract does not require evidence of death to use bereavement leave. At the grievance meeting, the department head reviewed our contract and agreed that death certification is not required. Therefore, he retroactively approved Marisol’s bereavement leave and restored her leave accruals.
Unionized employers are prohibited from changing working conditions – including adding new rules to access leave benefits – without negotiating those changes with our union.
In Marisol’s case, the county never negotiated a death certification requirement for employees to use bereavement leave. Using the grievance procedure, Marisol successfully held her managers accountable to the rules that were negotiated in her contract, which will hopefully avoid similar problems for her co-workers in the future.
“Being part of a union gives us more rights and protections than we would have without a union. This experience convinced me to sign up as a member and become a steward because I want to learn as much as I can about our rights to protect myself and my co-workers.”
– Marisol Linares, San Benito County Member