I. Statement of Philosophy:
Representation of unit members is based upon the principle that every unit member is entitled to contractual and legal due process when a dispute arises in the course of their employment. The representation of an individual by the Federation does not indicate that the organization is making a judgement about the conduct of a unit member or about the issue in dispute. The Federation’s role is to ensure due process and represent unit members, not to render judgment. Formal grievances may only be filed for violations of our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). When disputes arise that are not violations of a CBA, the Federation may endeavor to resolve such disputes. Such non-contractual assistance may include helping to mediate the dispute, assisting members in administrative hearings, or pursuing litigation to enforce statutory rights.
II. Grievance Procedure:
Federation members should review the grievance procedure carefully, as it governs the process for filing and processing grievances, and any failure to follow the procedures can result in the grievance being denied. (This is one additional reason why it is important that unit members should contact their union representative as soon as they feel they might have grounds for a grievance.) As a general guide, and only for illustration (not intended to be an authoritative description), here are the basic steps of the grievance process:
Step 1. The unit member writes a declaration about the problem. This written declaration will have a timeline that includes the who, what, where, and when of the issue(s).
Step 2. The unit member reviews the appropriate section of the contract and determines if the grievance is a contractual violation or an issue outside of the contract. In other words, was the contract violated? The second question that the unit member should ask is, “Does this issue only impact me or is it a broader issue that affects more than an individual?” After thinking about these two questions, the unit member should set up a meeting with the program or Division Representative to discuss a strategy for the issue. The unit member also has the option of contacting an officer of the Federation Executive Board, including the Chief Grievance Officer.
Step 3. (Informal) Based on the strategy developed out of the meeting between the unit member and Division Representative, an informal meeting with the immediate supervisor should be scheduled with the goal to resolve the issue/grievance within the time limit set forth in the CBA.
Step 4. If the grievance is not resolved at the informal level, the unit member presents the grievance, in writing, to the appropriate administrator as indicated in the CBA, and within the time limits set forth in the CBA.
Steps 5+. If the grievance is still not resolved, it can be timely appealed to the next level manager as set forth in the relevant CBA through the various steps of the grievance process. A grievance that is not resolved at the culmination of the grievance process can ultimately be appealed to arbitration by the Federation (or by the member themselves in the cases of appeal of discipline only).