Labor unions exist to protect its member employees and provide dependable support when problems emerge between employees and employers. To eliminate biases and ensure that both parties are on equal standing, a union and employer agree on a grievance and arbitration procedure which both parties must follow in if there’s a dispute. While grievance procedures vary per union and employer, some segments are present across the board.
Elements of Standardized Grievance Procedures
All grievance procedures consist of:
- First Meeting – The first step of the grievance and arbitration process, the meeting between the union steward and the employer is where the grievance is laid on the table and discussed in detail.
- Investigation – The union and the employer would have already conducted initial investigations before the first meeting. However, depending on how the discussion progresses, one or both parties may request for more time to gather information.
- Remedy – The aggrieved party would propose a remedy that solves the problem at hand. It may also include a demand for compensation if the situation calls for it.
- Extension Periods – Requests to extend the grievance process are common and must be in writing. There have been cases when employers deny having agreed to an extension period, and it cost unions the case.
- Arbitration – Grievance arbitration is always the last step, the last resort in case the union and employer can’t agree on a resolution. Littleton Alternative Dispute Resolution, Inc., a dispute resolution law practice, recommends union arbitration because it allows unions and employers to make binding decisions with the help of a neutral party.
Simple Negotiation: The First Hurdle
The union steward, as the representative of the aggrieved employee, first presents the details of the grievance against the employer. He or she states who’s involved, what the grievance was, and when, where, and why it happened. The employer will listen and state its position on the matter.
Union stewards and employers who can talk things through could settle disputes as early as the first meeting. It’s when the first meetings fail to end with a resolution that union arbitration happens.
Refusal to Settle Calls for Arbitration
Arbitration is necessary when the opposing parties can’t settle, but also don’t want to go to court. It is a formal way of resolving problems, the middle ground between a casual meeting and a court hearing. As third-party individuals who with no biases, arbitrators can help the involved parties find common ground.
Resolutions may be binding if both parties agree to it before the arbitration begins. It’s therefore essential to find dispute resolution lawyers who can arbitrate without bias and can provide solutions which will sit well with the parties involved.