How to File a Grievance
A grievance is a complaint filed with the company by the union on behalf of a bargained employee asserting that the employee’s rights have been violated. These rights are usually those defined by the contract, but grievances can also be filed over violations of the law or, in certain instances, over violations of the company’s established past practices.
Representation: The best way to be successful in a grievance is to be prepared and that starts with representation. In any situation which could lead to discipline it is important that you be represented by the union. This provides you with someone who the union has trained to be informed of your rights, to document the meeting and act as a witness so it is not simply your word against the managers. The company will almost always have two managers present for this reason and you should have similar protection. If you are being called by management to a disciplinary meeting or to an investigatory (or any other) meeting which could in any way lead to discipline, ask for union representation. Do not ask, “Do I need a union rep?” Simply say, “If this meeting could, in any way, lead to discipline, I request union representation.” If representation is not provided, tell the manager that you choose not to participate in the meeting until representation arrives. Request that the meeting be rescheduled for a time when representation is present. Do not answer questions without representation present. Do not refuse to go where you are told as this could lead to charges of insubordination. Simply do not actively participate in the meeting until representation arrives.
Statement of Occurrence This document is your statement to the union of exactly what happened and what you want done to correct it. You may get this form here or from a union steward. Fill out the “Statement of Occurrence,” giving all requested information. Your NCS is the date you came to work for the company. Give the date of the occurrence and accurately detail exactly what happened. Include the names of anyone who was a witness. If more room is required you can continue on the back or attach additional pages. Keep good notes and file them where they will be accessible if needed preferably not at your desk or on your work computer as these have been known to disappear.
Release of Information The union will request information from the company to bolster your case for winning your grievance. The company requires your authorization to release your information. You do this with the “Authorization for Release of Information” form. You can get this form here or from your Union Steward. In the middle of the form just sign the signature line and provide your title, location and the date. The rest of the form will be filled out by the union.
Deliver both of these completed forms to the union. You can give them to your steward or drop them by the Union Hall at 4615 W. Loop 289 (at Marsha Sharpe Fwy.) Get these forms to the union as soon as you can as timing is critical in the success of your grievance. After receiving your paperwork, the union will need time to prepare your grievance and it must be prepared and received by the company within 45 days of the occurrence or you lose important rights under the contract.
The Grievance Process You will find the grievance process detailed in Article 7 of the 2004 Labor Agreement or contract. If you don’t have one, you can get a copy from your union steward.
Step 1. Once submitted, the company is supposed to contact the union within 7 days to schedule a meeting on your grievance. Unfortunately the company has had a great deal of difficulty in meeting this deadline so it may be longer before we get a reply. Once the company provides the information the union requested to represent you, a meeting will be scheduled to hear your grievance. You are allowed to attend this meeting, paid by the company, and the union encourages you to do so. The grievance is normally presented to two or more management members of the HR department. There will be a presenter and a note taker representing the union. The union presents your case, why you feel you are justified in wanting the situation corrected and what should be done to correct it.
The company is required to give a written decision on the grievance within 10 days, but here too the company has frequently been late. If the company’s response is acceptable to you, congratulations, you won your grievance. If you do not agree with their decision you have the right to appeal to the second step.
Step 2 If the step one resolution is not acceptable it may be appealed to the company. This must be done within 15 work days from the decision. Within 7 days of receiving the appeal, the company is required to contact the union to schedule a meeting on the appeal. You are again encouraged to attend this meeting and once again the company pays. The procedure is the same as at the first step and the company is required to notify the union of their decision within 15 workdays from the completion of the meeting. These two steps constitute the formal grievance process and, as you can see, the decision is fully the company’s, though the union will do their best to make your case.
Beyond the Grievance Articles 8 and 9 of the contract outline Mediation and Arbitration. Mediation must be agreed to by both parties and is thus almost never used. The union can submit the issue to arbitration without the company’s consent. An arbitration is decided by a neutral, third party arbitrator but it should be understood that the arbitration process is long, tedious and expensive. For this reason, the decision to arbitrate is made by the Union District office and is reserved for serious and weighty issues which the union is likely to win.