How is a grievance defined?

And, what should you do about it?

Grievance, complaint, or gripe?

Knowing the difference between these three is important.

  • Grievance

    A grievance is a violation of your contract, which means a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that Local 555 has negotiated with your employer.

    What to do

  • Complaint

    A complaint involves something that is problematic at work but does not technically violate your contract. It may be resolvable through avenues other than a grievance.

    What to do

  • Gripe

    A gripe is not a contractual violation (which is why it’s not a grievance) and it is unlikely to be able to be solved (which is why it is not a complaint).

    What to do

Grievance: what to do

A grievance is defined under the grievance article in your contract but a simpler way to think of it is simply a violation or denial of any specific section of the contract. For example, if your contract specified time and a half pay for overtime worked but your employer didn’t honor that agreement, you would have a grievance to file.

If you have experienced a grievance:

  • TIMING?

    Most grievances have a time limit on them. If something happens to you, take action immediately!

  • CHECK IN

    Contact your Union Rep or Shop Steward to confirm that you are correct that you are experiencing something that can be categorized as a grievance. Some examples may be:

    • Your employer has violated the contract
    • Management has broken the law
    • Your employer violated its own company rules
    • Your employer is singling you (or a small group of your coworkers) out
    • The company changed a long-standing practice
    • You were terminated, suspended, or disciplined unfairly

    In any of these cases, your Rep may recommend that you go through another avenue (such as through BOLI or OSHA) depending on what is likely to be the best outcome for you.

  • DOCUMENT

    Document what is happening to you by writing down all the details that you have. Avoid hearsay or gossip; just document what you can prove.

  • SUBMIT

    Send your documentation to your Union Rep or Shop Steward. Ask them if they need additional information; if so, repeat Steps 3 & 4.

  • REMAIN ACTIVE

    Pay attention to any materials that you receive from Local 555 (email or mail, especially). You’ll be contacted each time a next step is taken or more information is needed. Be active in finding the solution to your grievance.

Complaint: what to do

A complaint lives in the middle ground between a grievance and a gripe. For example, maybe your manager treats you differently than other employees when setting up the schedule. It may be resolvable by going through your management team or, you may be able to reach out to an outside source (such as BOLI or OSHA) for resolution. Your Rep can help you decide.
In case of a complaint:

  • CHECK IN

    Contact your Union Rep or Shop Steward to confirm that it is, in fact, a complaint or a gripe rather than a grievance.

  • DOCUMENT

    Document what is happening to you by writing down all the details that you have. Avoid hearsay or gossip; just document what you can prove.

  • SUBMIT

    Send your complaint in writing to your supervisor.

  • FOLLOW UP

    If you do not get a response, send your complaint up the chain of command to the next person. Alternatively, if you do not get a satisfactory response, consider outside help that your Union Rep can help you contact, such as BOLI or OSHA.

Gripe: what to do

A gripe is a problem at work that is unlikely to be resolvable either as a grievance or a complaint. For example, maybe your supervisor “treats you differently” but that treatment does not rise to the level of discrimination. (If it does become discrimination, then you have a grievance.)

In case of a gripe:

  • CHECK IN

    Contact your Union Rep or Shop Steward to confirm that it is, in fact, a gripe or complaint rather than a grievance.

  • REMAIN AWARE

    It is unlikely that anything can be done about your gripe. HOWEVER, you should still document the who, what, and where just in case the problem continues. Sometimes gripes can change over time or grow into either a complaint or a grievance.

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