The Grievance and Arbitration Process

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The Grievance and Arbitration Process
There has always been a need for conflict resolution on the job. The grievance and arbitration process is one way for employees to be heard when conflict on the job arises. The grievance and arbitration process is also a way for employees to obtain some type of satisfaction at the end of the grievance process. Having representation by the union often guarantees an employee a fair, just, and timely grievance process. However, not all employees feel that way when they are not a represented the union. The grievance process can mean different things to each individual employee and usually no two complaints are normally about the same type of issue. “There are two possible approaches to defining a grievance: therapeutic and legalistic” (Holley, Jennings, & Wolters, 2008, p.421). A grievance is a complaint and more than likely some type of violation of an employee's rights on the job. Grievances almost always are due to work related issues. Similar a right that is usually, but not always defined by an employment or some other type of contract. According to Holley et al., (2008), “a grievance is clearly defined as an employee’s or employer’s alleged violation of the labor agreement that is submitted to the grievance procedure for resolution by the employee” (p. 420). Despite the definition of a grievance, employees need to feel that their best interest is being met. Disputes over wages, working conditions, and work stoppages are by far some of the reasons of work disputes that will arise during the life of an employment contract. As a result, most employment and union contracts contain specific clauses describing how disputes are to be resolved. Employees usually file grievances because of work related issues such as working conditions or supervisory issues. “Some employees also file grievances for such reasons such as administrative issues, economic issues, and employee disciplinary matters” (Holley et al., 2008, p.418).

The grievance process is a four step procedure. At the initial step the grievance is presented as a written statement and a meeting is usually takes place between the employee and management. This meeting takes place between the aggrieved employee, represented by the union, and the employer, represented by a manager. They both have an opportunity to present their arguments and make a case for or against the grievance to a decision-maker. If the grievance is denied at the initial step, the grievance may be appealed to the next step in the process. For a grievance procedure to be effective, both parties involved should view the complaint as a positive force that opens the discussion of the true issues. The four steps are as follows: Step 1: The employee or union steward representative shall present the grievance to the most immediate supervisor who has the authority to make adjustments in the matter. The supervisor then answers the employee’s grievance in writing. The purpose of the discussion is to resolve the grievance as early and as informally as possible. Step 2: In addition to the individuals in the first step, the union grievance committee members and managements labor relations representative are brought in to discuss the supervisors grievance answer. The second step written grievance answer is furnished by the Company’s labor relations representative, and any precedent resulting from this answer usually applies only to the particular work department instead of the entire facility.

Step 3: The third step meeting involves the same individuals as the second step but also includes the labor relations manager and other management officials, members of the union’s grievance committee, and the union’s international union representative. During the third step meeting the union discusses the grievance and its related rationale, and management mostly listens and does not attempt to resolve the grievance in this meeting. This step can also serve a therapeutic...
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