Delta Dental Teamsters use their seat at the table to fix broken overtime policy

Last year, Local 856 members at Delta Dental ratified their latest union contract. In addition to guaranteeing wage increases and maintaining their employer-paid health and welfare benefits, the new agreement also established a Joint Labor Management Committee (JLMC).

“The JLMC is another forum where members will have a seat at the table to have their voices heard,” said Susanna Farber, the Teamsters 856 staff attorney representative who represents Delta Dental Teamsters. “Now that the contract mandates these monthly meetings with management, we’ve been able to address and resolve several ongoing issues.”

Lynette Adams is a Teamsters 856 shop steward who works in the Delta Dental correspondence department.

Mandatory overtime was one of the first topics the JLMC took up and came to an agreement on. Delta Dental has committed to providing at least seven days’ notice when they need employees to work overtime. In addition, management will have to evaluate the number of hours needed based on the work that needs to be done, and then open up the assignment to volunteers first. In the event they do not get enough volunteers, overtime can be mandated in reverse seniority order as provided for in the collective bargaining agreement.

This victory is a huge relief for Delta Dental Teamsters who have dealt with being given very short notice before being required to work the extra hours.

“There have been times when an overtime notice was sent on a Thursday afternoon for Monday,” said Lynette Adams, a Teamsters 856 shop steward at Delta Dental. “A lot of employees wouldn’t see it until Friday and between people being out sick or on vacation, some wouldn’t see it until Monday – the day they were mandated to work.”

According to Lynette, such short notice is particularly hard on working families with young children. “It doesn’t give parents enough time to make new child care arrangements and they often ended up paying extra,” she explained.

Deirdre Lopez is a shop steward and Delta Dental insurance auditor.

The JLMC that took on the mandatory overtime issue included management, human resources, Local 856 Staff Attorney Representative Susanna Farber, and a group of shop stewards.

Deirdre Lopez was one of the shop stewards at the meeting. “We spoke and asked questions, and human resources and management listened to us and we had a discussion instead of them just trying to make a hardline decision,” she said.

Deirdre explained that the JLMC coming to a consensus regarding overtime was in the best interest of everyone. “Without us, there is no job for management and we have no job if the company fails, so these meetings give us a chance to help them understand that we all want the company to succeed,” she said.

In addition to overtime, the JLMC also discussed the Delta Dental call center’s shift bid. In the original shift bid, bilingual agents were separated out instead of doing the bid by seniority. In response, Teamsters 856 filed a grievance. In a recent JLMC meeting, the committee was able to come to an agreement that the shift bid will be done by straight seniority. Right now, the plan is to redo the shift bid this month.  The JLMC is also discussing bilingual shift differential for bilingual agents.

“I appreciate Delta Dental for sitting at the table and listening to employees’ concerns and making the JLMC work,” said Lynette. “Before, even with grievances, Delta Dental would find ways to stall, but now we have regular monthly meetings to address issues. It’s a good thing.”