Channels of conflict resolution

  • Published
  • By Col. Karl McGregor
  • 452 AMW
I encourage Team March members to utilize their command chain when they perceive there are issues that need to be addressed by leadership. There are also a number of organizations, such as the Wing Advisory Council, Company Grade Officers Council, Rising Six, etc., that also provide direct input when problems arise.

If members are not satisfied by the command chain's response, then there are formal complaint channels available which may be utilized. The wing receives many formal and informal complaints, and they are worked in a serious manner. Keep in mind that complaints that are delivered anonymously are very difficult to address, since there is no complainant to provide names and details.

I encourage a constant improvement atmosphere and view complaints as opportunities to improve our processes and make our culture better. I've asked my experts to provide comments on their unique areas.

The following avenues are some, but not all, of the resources available to March service members and employees.

Waste, fraud and abuse
All service members, civilian employees, contractors and family members have the right to seek counsel with their inspector general without fear of harassment or repercussion.
Waste, fraud and abuse can be reported on the Defense Department hotline at 800-425-9098. Formal IG complaints are filed using an Air Force Form 102 and should be submitted within 60 days of the alleged incident. The IG office will conduct an interview with the complainant and gather information to conduct an analysis. If the allegation is within the IG's scope of responsibility, the IG office will conduct an investigation and release the results to the commander of the person of whom the allegations are against.

The IG office also handles reports of reprisal (prejudice or hostility toward whistleblowers), restriction (supervisors who forbid access to the inspector general) and cases of improperly ordered mental health evaluations. Confidentiality in IG complaints is generally preserved, but is dependent on the nature of the situation. To reach the 452nd Air Mobility Wing inspector general office, call 951-655-4478.

Safety hazards
After noticing a safety hazard in your workplace or elsewhere on the base, immediately report the hazard to the responsible supervisor. If you are unable to resolve the hazard with the supervisor, fill out an Air Force Form 457 and submit it to the wing safety office. The person submitting the form is not required to list their name, although it helps the wing safety office to identify the hazard. For more information, call the safety office at 951-655-4481.

Discrimination and harassment
The equal opportunity office provides service members, military retirees, dependents and civilian employees (including former employees and applicants for employment) the opportunity to address equal opportunity concerns, explore resolution options and exercise their rights to file complaints of unlawful discrimination and harassment.
For military equal opportunity complaints, protected categories include race, color, religion, national origin and sex/gender (including sexual harassment).

Air Force Reserve members have 180 days from the alleged offense to file a formal complaint; active duty members and reservists on active duty status at the time of incident have 60 days. Complaint clarifications are conducted to determine if the allegations are substantiated, unsubstantiated or inconclusive. Inconclusive findings are referred to the inspector general or addressed by a commander-directed inquiry.

Informal complaints do not have a time limit for active duty members, but reservists have 120 days from the alleged offense to initiate this method. The informal process offers members the option to address the issue themselves, use the chain of command, request mediation/facilitation or take no action.

Suggestions for the informal process include speaking or writing to the person about the behavior, requesting assistance from a supervisor or co-worker or allowing their first sergeant or commander the chance to solve the problem.

Protected categories for civilian equal employment opportunity complaints include race, color, religion, national origin, sex/gender (includes sexual harassment), age (40 years and older), disability (physical and mental), genetic information and reprisal (for EEO involvement).

For civilians who wish to initiate an EEO complaint, the aggrieved must contact the EO office within 45 days following the alleged discriminatory act or personnel action to begin the informal process. An EEO counselor will conduct a limited fact finding inquiry and attempt resolution.

The counselor's role is to be a bridge between the aggrieved and management. As such, they are neutral and do not represent either side. The EO office does not determine if discrimination has occurred in EEO complaints, but only attempts to resolve the complaint.

If the complaint is not resolved, the complainant is given a notice of right to file a formal complaint. To contact the EEO office, call 951-655-7402 (Monday - Friday) and 951-655-4782/4814 (UTA weekends).

Labor law violations
The American Federation of Government Employees Local 3854 represents certain non-supervisory civilian employees at March, including Defense Department, Veterans Affairs,
Exchange, Commissary and non-appropriated funds personnel.

An employee may file a formal grievance with the union office, if they believe they have been subjected to a violation of the local labor management agreement (such as improper disciplinary action or a dispute over working hours) or applicable regulations.

After an employee has filed a grievance, the union will conduct an investigation and, if the situation warrants, assist the employee in taking legal action.
An employee does not need to be a dues-paying member of the union to file a grievance. To contact the Local 3854 office, call 951-655-3902.

Sexual assault
When a military member is the victim of a sexual assault, the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator can help. There are two different kinds of sexual assault reports: restricted and unrestricted. Both methods ensure victims of sexual assault are protected, treated with dignity and respect, as well as given support, advocacy and care.

Any report of a sexual assault made through normal reporting channels (including the victim's chain of command, law enforcement or other criminal investigative services) is considered an unrestricted report and will be forwarded to Air Force Office of Special Investigations. The restricted reporting option enables military members to report allegations of sexual assault to specified personnel, without triggering an investigation. This is intended to remove barriers to medical care and support while protecting the victim's identity and giving them time to react.

Sexual assault response coordinators, chaplains, health care personnel and representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs are the only people who can receive restricted reports of sexual assault. Military members have 12 months to decide if they want to change their restricted report to an unrestricted report.

Victims will receive the same support from the sexual assault response and protection office, whether they have filed a restricted or an unrestricted report. March's sexual assault hotline is 951-655-7272.

Facility repairs
All trouble calls to the base operations support services contractor (Satellite Services, Inc.) should be made through your building's designated facility manager or alternate facility manager. In case of an emergency, call the service desk at 951-655-4880. To upgrade or modify a portion of a building, an Air Force Form 332 is required. The requests are analyzed during the base's weekly work order request boards.

If you are dissatisfied with the level of service on a trouble call, your facility manager may contact SSI quality control supervisors. Also, you can complete the customer feedback form that SSI attaches to each work order.

Labor law grievances
Civil service employees who are not eligible to file a grievance under the terms of a labor management agreement may utilize the Air Force Administrative Grievance System to address a complaint. The formal grievance system is governed by Air Force Instruction 36-1203 and provides a forum for non-bargaining unit employees to file a complaint up the chain of command. Generally speaking, an employee may file an informal grievance directly to the immediate supervisor, either orally or in writing.

If the complaint is against the immediate supervisor, the employee may file the informal grievance with the next level supervisor. If the employee feels the complaint was not resolved during the informal grievance procedure, the employee may file a formal written grievance directly to the designated deciding official.

For Air Force Reserve Command employees, the formal grievance is submitted directly to the civilian personnel officer. Each situation is unique and employees can refer to the civilian personnel flight or the AFI for further information.

Complaints against commanders
Article 138 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, essentially states that any member believing he or she was wronged by his or her commander may complain to any superior commissioned officer. The complaint then must be forwarded to the officer with general court-martial convening authority jurisdiction. For 452 AMW members, this complaint would be forwarded to the Commander, Fourth Air Force for investigation. For more information, military members can refer to AFI 51-904 and Article 138, UCMJ.

Military disciplinary or administrative actions
Military members who are facing administrative or discipline actions, or who want to discuss their potential rights to file complaints about command actions, may be eligible for assistance through the Area Defense Counsel. Eligible March ARB military members are serviced by Edwards Air Force Base Area Defense Counsel. Military members may contact that office at 661-277-2809 for more information.