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Grievance Handling

The steward plays a central role in settling disputes between the union and management or a worker and management. When management has violated a worker’s rights or has not lived up to its obligations, the steward’s job is to represent the interests of the aggrieved worker and the union in trying to settle the dispute.

What is a Grievance?

Members come to their stewards with problems, and it is sometimes difficult to determine whether the problem qualifies as a legitimate grievance or not.  There are five types of violations that can serve as the basis for a grievance. They include violations of:

  1. the collective bargaining agreement;
  2. state or federal law;
  3. company rules/policies;
  4. fair treatment; and
  5. past practice.

Processing a Grievance

In the overwhelming majority of union contracts, the union has the right to file a grievance. If you think an important issue is at stake, under most union contracts, you needn’t wait for a member to file a grievance.

Whether a worker’s rights are violated on the job, or the union files a grievance on an issue, you are the first line of defense. In most unions, your role is to investigate thoroughly any complaint from the beginning and decide what action to take to resolve it. The first step is to differentiate between a grievance and a gripe. Often, employees assume anything they don’t like about the job is a grievance. Many times, the problem is not one that requires a grievance, which is a formal union response to a violation of a worker’s rights under the contract, the law or past practice. Other complaints are not grievances and should be solved through other means.

Most Common Types of Grievances

1.  Absenteeism and Tardiness
2.  Work Performance
3.  Rule Violations
4.  Insubordination
5.  Promotions
6.  Off-Duty Conduct
7.  Personal Appearance
8.  Job Classification

How do you determine whether the appropriate action is to file a grievance?  Take the following steps:

1.  Interview the Grievant
2.  Gather Facts
3.  Analyze the Facts
4.  Write the Grievance
5.  File the Grievance
6.  Present the Grievance

Click here for detailed instructions for each of these steps.

Download Grievance Investigation Materials:

Grievance Investigation Checklist
Grievance Investigation Worksheet