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Question About Union Contract And Language Of Contract
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Ronda Hauben
2005-05-12 16:37:25 EST
I have a question about whether the meaning of the union contract
is the plain english interpretation or something different that
a member can have no idea of.

For example, a union contract reads:

Step 1 (article 31)

Within a reasonable time (except as provided in Article 29) an
Employee having a grievance and/or his/her Union Delegate or other
representative shall take it up with his/her immediate supervisor.
The Employer shall give its answer to the Employee and/or his/her
Union Delegate or other representative within five (5) working
days after the presentation of the grievance....

2 (a) Failure on the part of the Employer to answer a grievance at
any step shall not be deemed acquiescence thereto, and the Union may
proceed to the next step....



---

When the union member tells the supervisor that the member
would like to have a grievance meeting with the supervisor, the
supervisor refuses to have the meeting.

The union member is later told by management that a supervisor can refuse
to have a first step grievance meeting.

However the contract provides for having the meeting. It only
says that if the supervisor doesn't give a decision from the
first step then the member can go onto the next step.

It appears that if the supervisor refuses to have the first step of
the grievance meeting, according to the language in the contract, that
effectively kills the grievance.

However, more recently, someone explained (but this is not in the contract)
that a supervisor refuses to meet for a first step grievance. And that
the grievant goes to the 2nd step. There is no language in the contract,
however, to state that this is the practice and so the union member
will not understand this by reading their contract.

Other language in the contract states one thing in plain English,
but the management does not act accordingly.

---

The explanation given for this and other practices that are different
from what the language of the contract says, is that there is
an arbitratration interpretation that provides for how to interpret
the union contract language.

Does anyone know if there are indeed such arbitrator's decisions,
or other forms of legal activity that might account for
overriding the common language in the contract, the language that
states process of bringing a grievance.

The effect of such legal interpretation, if it does exist, then is to
make the contract null and void, and instead this puts in management's
hands the knowledge of the arbitration decision, while the union
member is left with a contract book which has no meaning.

I wonder if this is the actual state of affairs in the American
labor movement at the moment?

If so the membership is being denied not only any contract protection,
but even more seriously, a way to know what the contract actually is.

Thanks for any information about this state of affairs.

Ronda
ronda(at)panix.com



Michael Legel
2005-05-12 17:27:54 EST

"Ronda Hauben" <ronda@panix.com> wrote in message
news:d60eq5$4cc$1@reader1.panix.com...
>I have a question about whether the meaning of the union contract
> is the plain english interpretation or something different that
> a member can have no idea of.
>
> For example, a union contract reads:
>
> Step 1 (article 31)
>
> Within a reasonable time (except as provided in Article 29) an
> Employee having a grievance and/or his/her Union Delegate or other
> representative shall take it up with his/her immediate supervisor.
> The Employer shall give its answer to the Employee and/or his/her
> Union Delegate or other representative within five (5) working
> days after the presentation of the grievance....
>
> 2 (a) Failure on the part of the Employer to answer a grievance at
> any step shall not be deemed acquiescence thereto, and the Union may
> proceed to the next step....
>
>
>
> ---
>
> When the union member tells the supervisor that the member
> would like to have a grievance meeting with the supervisor, the
> supervisor refuses to have the meeting.
>
> The union member is later told by management that a supervisor can refuse
> to have a first step grievance meeting.
>
> However the contract provides for having the meeting. It only
> says that if the supervisor doesn't give a decision from the
> first step then the member can go onto the next step.
>
> It appears that if the supervisor refuses to have the first step of
> the grievance meeting, according to the language in the contract, that
> effectively kills the grievance.
>
> However, more recently, someone explained (but this is not in the contract)
> that a supervisor refuses to meet for a first step grievance. And that
> the grievant goes to the 2nd step. There is no language in the contract,
> however, to state that this is the practice and so the union member
> will not understand this by reading their contract.
>
> Other language in the contract states one thing in plain English,
> but the management does not act accordingly.
>
> ---
>
> The explanation given for this and other practices that are different
> from what the language of the contract says, is that there is
> an arbitratration interpretation that provides for how to interpret
> the union contract language.
>
> Does anyone know if there are indeed such arbitrator's decisions,
> or other forms of legal activity that might account for
> overriding the common language in the contract, the language that
> states process of bringing a grievance.
>
> The effect of such legal interpretation, if it does exist, then is to
> make the contract null and void, and instead this puts in management's
> hands the knowledge of the arbitration decision, while the union
> member is left with a contract book which has no meaning.
>
> I wonder if this is the actual state of affairs in the American
> labor movement at the moment?
>
> If so the membership is being denied not only any contract protection,
> but even more seriously, a way to know what the contract actually is.
>
> Thanks for any information about this state of affairs.
>
> Ronda
> ronda(at)panix.com

It is difficult to pull one section of a contractual grievance procedure out
of context and give good explanation, but it would seem to me from your
explanation that the grief should automatically move forward in the procedure
once the time limit of each step is exhausted regardless of answer or
disagreement by the company. Most grievance procedures only end in the first
step if the parties reach agreement or the grievant (or union rep) decide not
to move the grief to the next step. I can't imagine anybody would negotiate a
grievance procedure in which either side can determine the outcome alone short
of agreement or the union dropping the grief. As to previous arbitration
overriding grief ... this will only be so in circumstances very nearly the
same as those previously arbitrated. There are very few "blanket" arbitration
decisions that would preclude the use of a contractual grievance procedure to
resolve issues. Many company labor reps will try to convince employees they
have no rights to file grief, but it only works if the employee does not
assert the right. The aggrieved may have to file the grief through the union
hall, but it is the employee's responsibility to make that happen. If the
company can convince the aggrieved not to file grief, it is not usually
accepted that ignorance of one's rights is a grievable issue. Only by
pressing forward can one assert whatever rights the contract provides. My
experience was to file the original grief and another grievance on failure to
negotiate in good faith by ignoring the original grief in the first place.
But that is my experience with my employer with my contract with that
employer.

I would also have to say that it is probably not considered a contractual
grievance if not represented by the appropriate union rep because almost all
union contracts are with the union as representative of the employee. This
protects the employer from having to negotiate with each employee
individually. So I would say the employee must at some point engage the union
rep (according to appropriate contract provisions) which might mean actually
asking the employer for the opportunity to speak with the union rep. The most
important part of the grievance procedure is reading and understanding the
intent of the language.



Frank
2005-05-12 17:44:43 EST

"Michael Legel" <mjlegel@verizon.net> wrote in message
news:uTPge.15129$U01.7777@trnddc07...
>
> "Ronda Hauben" <ronda@panix.com> wrote in message
> news:d60eq5$4cc$1@reader1.panix.com...
>>I have a question about whether the meaning of the union contract
>> is the plain english interpretation or something different that
>> a member can have no idea of.
>>
>> For example, a union contract reads:
>>
>> Step 1 (article 31)
>>
>> Within a reasonable time (except as provided in Article 29) an
>> Employee having a grievance and/or his/her Union Delegate or other
>> representative shall take it up with his/her immediate supervisor.
>> The Employer shall give its answer to the Employee and/or his/her
>> Union Delegate or other representative within five (5) working
>> days after the presentation of the grievance....
>>
>> 2 (a) Failure on the part of the Employer to answer a grievance at
>> any step shall not be deemed acquiescence thereto, and the Union may
>> proceed to the next step....
>>
>>
>>
>> ---
>>
>> When the union member tells the supervisor that the member
>> would like to have a grievance meeting with the supervisor, the
>> supervisor refuses to have the meeting.
>>
>> The union member is later told by management that a supervisor can refuse
>> to have a first step grievance meeting.
>>
>> However the contract provides for having the meeting. It only
>> says that if the supervisor doesn't give a decision from the
>> first step then the member can go onto the next step.
>>
>> It appears that if the supervisor refuses to have the first step of
>> the grievance meeting, according to the language in the contract, that
>> effectively kills the grievance.
>>
>> However, more recently, someone explained (but this is not in the
>> contract)
>> that a supervisor refuses to meet for a first step grievance. And that
>> the grievant goes to the 2nd step. There is no language in the contract,
>> however, to state that this is the practice and so the union member
>> will not understand this by reading their contract.
>>
>> Other language in the contract states one thing in plain English,
>> but the management does not act accordingly.
>>
>> ---
>>
>> The explanation given for this and other practices that are different
>> from what the language of the contract says, is that there is
>> an arbitratration interpretation that provides for how to interpret
>> the union contract language.
>>
>> Does anyone know if there are indeed such arbitrator's decisions,
>> or other forms of legal activity that might account for
>> overriding the common language in the contract, the language that
>> states process of bringing a grievance.
>>
>> The effect of such legal interpretation, if it does exist, then is to
>> make the contract null and void, and instead this puts in management's
>> hands the knowledge of the arbitration decision, while the union
>> member is left with a contract book which has no meaning.
>>
>> I wonder if this is the actual state of affairs in the American
>> labor movement at the moment?
>>
>> If so the membership is being denied not only any contract protection,
>> but even more seriously, a way to know what the contract actually is.
>>
>> Thanks for any information about this state of affairs.
>>
>> Ronda
>> ronda(at)panix.com
>
> It is difficult to pull one section of a contractual grievance procedure
> out of context and give good explanation, but it would seem to me from
> your explanation that the grief should automatically move forward in the
> procedure once the time limit of each step is exhausted regardless of
> answer or disagreement by the company. Most grievance procedures only end
> in the first step if the parties reach agreement or the grievant (or union
> rep) decide not to move the grief to the next step. I can't imagine
> anybody would negotiate a grievance procedure in which either side can
> determine the outcome alone short of agreement or the union dropping the
> grief. As to previous arbitration overriding grief ... this will only be
> so in circumstances very nearly the same as those previously arbitrated.
> There are very few "blanket" arbitration decisions that would preclude the
> use of a contractual grievance procedure to resolve issues. Many company
> labor reps will try to convince employees they have no rights to file
> grief, but it only works if the employee does not assert the right. The
> aggrieved may have to file the grief through the union hall, but it is the
> employee's responsibility to make that happen. If the company can
> convince the aggrieved not to file grief, it is not usually accepted that
> ignorance of one's rights is a grievable issue. Only by pressing forward
> can one assert whatever rights the contract provides. My experience was
> to file the original grief and another grievance on failure to negotiate
> in good faith by ignoring the original grief in the first place. But that
> is my experience with my employer with my contract with that employer.
>
> I would also have to say that it is probably not considered a contractual
> grievance if not represented by the appropriate union rep because almost
> all union contracts are with the union as representative of the employee.
> This protects the employer from having to negotiate with each employee
> individually. So I would say the employee must at some point engage the
> union rep (according to appropriate contract provisions) which might mean
> actually asking the employer for the opportunity to speak with the union
> rep. The most important part of the grievance procedure is reading and
> understanding the intent of the language.

Not Cat's favorite employee I assume.



Wm James
2005-05-12 18:08:09 EST
On Thu, 12 May 2005 20:37:25 +0000 (UTC), Ronda Hauben
<*a@panix.com> wrote:

>I have a question about whether the meaning of the union contract
>is the plain english interpretation or something different that
>a member can have no idea of.
>
>For example, a union contract reads:
>
>Step 1 (article 31)
>
>Within a reasonable time (except as provided in Article 29) an
>Employee having a grievance and/or his/her Union Delegate or other
>representative shall take it up with his/her immediate supervisor.
>The Employer shall give its answer to the Employee and/or his/her
>Union Delegate or other representative within five (5) working
>days after the presentation of the grievance....
>
>2 (a) Failure on the part of the Employer to answer a grievance at
>any step shall not be deemed acquiescence thereto, and the Union may
>proceed to the next step....
>
>
>
>---
>
>When the union member tells the supervisor that the member
>would like to have a grievance meeting with the supervisor, the
>supervisor refuses to have the meeting.
>
>The union member is later told by management that a supervisor can refuse
>to have a first step grievance meeting.
>
>However the contract provides for having the meeting. It only
>says that if the supervisor doesn't give a decision from the
>first step then the member can go onto the next step.
>
>It appears that if the supervisor refuses to have the first step of
>the grievance meeting, according to the language in the contract, that
>effectively kills the grievance.
>
>However, more recently, someone explained (but this is not in the contract)
>that a supervisor refuses to meet for a first step grievance. And that
>the grievant goes to the 2nd step. There is no language in the contract,
>however, to state that this is the practice and so the union member
>will not understand this by reading their contract.
>
>Other language in the contract states one thing in plain English,
>but the management does not act accordingly.
>
>---
>
>The explanation given for this and other practices that are different
>from what the language of the contract says, is that there is
>an arbitratration interpretation that provides for how to interpret
>the union contract language.
>
>Does anyone know if there are indeed such arbitrator's decisions,
>or other forms of legal activity that might account for
>overriding the common language in the contract, the language that
>states process of bringing a grievance.
>
>The effect of such legal interpretation, if it does exist, then is to
>make the contract null and void, and instead this puts in management's
>hands the knowledge of the arbitration decision, while the union
>member is left with a contract book which has no meaning.
>
>I wonder if this is the actual state of affairs in the American
>labor movement at the moment?
>
>If so the membership is being denied not only any contract protection,
>but even more seriously, a way to know what the contract actually is.
>
>Thanks for any information about this state of affairs.
>
>Ronda
>ronda(at)panix.com
>


If you want to contract your labor then you write the contract. The
union isn't interesting in you or your problems, they are interested
in serving the mob boss, you are just a tool. The employer is buying
labor and buying in bulk from the mob is often required and sometimes
less trouble that actualy buying labor frompeople willing to work for
a living.

If you want to know what the important part ofd the union contract is,
go to a newly union infected company and see what is always first on
the table, the one item the mob boss running the union will ever
negioate over or even take to the membership. It's not the pay or the
conditions, or the grevience process, it's dues checkoff. That's why
the union is there.

William R. James


Michael Legel
2005-05-12 20:36:06 EST

"Frank" <dontspamme@anytime.com> wrote in message
news:f7Qge.429$DK.237@newsread3.news.pas.earthlink.net...
>
> "Michael Legel" <mjlegel@verizon.net> wrote in message
> news:uTPge.15129$U01.7777@trnddc07...
>>
>> "Ronda Hauben" <ronda@panix.com> wrote in message
>> news:d60eq5$4cc$1@reader1.panix.com...
>>>I have a question about whether the meaning of the union contract
>>> is the plain english interpretation or something different that
>>> a member can have no idea of.
>>>
>>> For example, a union contract reads:
>>>
>>> Step 1 (article 31)
>>>
>>> Within a reasonable time (except as provided in Article 29) an
>>> Employee having a grievance and/or his/her Union Delegate or other
>>> representative shall take it up with his/her immediate supervisor.
>>> The Employer shall give its answer to the Employee and/or his/her
>>> Union Delegate or other representative within five (5) working
>>> days after the presentation of the grievance....
>>>
>>> 2 (a) Failure on the part of the Employer to answer a grievance at
>>> any step shall not be deemed acquiescence thereto, and the Union may
>>> proceed to the next step....
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> ---
>>>
>>> When the union member tells the supervisor that the member
>>> would like to have a grievance meeting with the supervisor, the
>>> supervisor refuses to have the meeting.
>>>
>>> The union member is later told by management that a supervisor can refuse
>>> to have a first step grievance meeting.
>>>
>>> However the contract provides for having the meeting. It only
>>> says that if the supervisor doesn't give a decision from the
>>> first step then the member can go onto the next step.
>>>
>>> It appears that if the supervisor refuses to have the first step of
>>> the grievance meeting, according to the language in the contract, that
>>> effectively kills the grievance.
>>>
>>> However, more recently, someone explained (but this is not in the
>>> contract)
>>> that a supervisor refuses to meet for a first step grievance. And that
>>> the grievant goes to the 2nd step. There is no language in the contract,
>>> however, to state that this is the practice and so the union member
>>> will not understand this by reading their contract.
>>>
>>> Other language in the contract states one thing in plain English,
>>> but the management does not act accordingly.
>>>
>>> ---
>>>
>>> The explanation given for this and other practices that are different
>>> from what the language of the contract says, is that there is
>>> an arbitratration interpretation that provides for how to interpret
>>> the union contract language.
>>>
>>> Does anyone know if there are indeed such arbitrator's decisions,
>>> or other forms of legal activity that might account for
>>> overriding the common language in the contract, the language that
>>> states process of bringing a grievance.
>>>
>>> The effect of such legal interpretation, if it does exist, then is to
>>> make the contract null and void, and instead this puts in management's
>>> hands the knowledge of the arbitration decision, while the union
>>> member is left with a contract book which has no meaning.
>>>
>>> I wonder if this is the actual state of affairs in the American
>>> labor movement at the moment?
>>>
>>> If so the membership is being denied not only any contract protection,
>>> but even more seriously, a way to know what the contract actually is.
>>>
>>> Thanks for any information about this state of affairs.
>>>
>>> Ronda
>>> ronda(at)panix.com
>>
>> It is difficult to pull one section of a contractual grievance procedure
>> out of context and give good explanation, but it would seem to me from your
>> explanation that the grief should automatically move forward in the
>> procedure once the time limit of each step is exhausted regardless of
>> answer or disagreement by the company. Most grievance procedures only end
>> in the first step if the parties reach agreement or the grievant (or union
>> rep) decide not to move the grief to the next step. I can't imagine
>> anybody would negotiate a grievance procedure in which either side can
>> determine the outcome alone short of agreement or the union dropping the
>> grief. As to previous arbitration overriding grief ... this will only be
>> so in circumstances very nearly the same as those previously arbitrated.
>> There are very few "blanket" arbitration decisions that would preclude the
>> use of a contractual grievance procedure to resolve issues. Many company
>> labor reps will try to convince employees they have no rights to file
>> grief, but it only works if the employee does not assert the right. The
>> aggrieved may have to file the grief through the union hall, but it is the
>> employee's responsibility to make that happen. If the company can convince
>> the aggrieved not to file grief, it is not usually accepted that ignorance
>> of one's rights is a grievable issue. Only by pressing forward can one
>> assert whatever rights the contract provides. My experience was to file
>> the original grief and another grievance on failure to negotiate in good
>> faith by ignoring the original grief in the first place. But that is my
>> experience with my employer with my contract with that employer.
>>
>> I would also have to say that it is probably not considered a contractual
>> grievance if not represented by the appropriate union rep because almost
>> all union contracts are with the union as representative of the employee.
>> This protects the employer from having to negotiate with each employee
>> individually. So I would say the employee must at some point engage the
>> union rep (according to appropriate contract provisions) which might mean
>> actually asking the employer for the opportunity to speak with the union
>> rep. The most important part of the grievance procedure is reading and
>> understanding the intent of the language.
>
> Not Cat's favorite employee I assume.

Not at first. But after we solved a few problems together I earned their
respect. I didn't need to be liked to do my job. I wasn't always the
unions' favorite rep either. Everything is about the contract and the
individual aspects of whether it is honored or not by either side. You win
some, you lose some. It was my experience that any manager that refused to
discuss a grievance was usually guilty of not honoring the contract and was
trying to bully their way through the problem rather than actually address the
relevant issues.



Michael Legel
2005-05-12 20:39:31 EST
"Wm James" <wrjames.remove@spamreaper.org> wrote in message
news:krk7811s8j51mhqhb8ft3dgatrg61f9jcv@4ax.com...

>
> If you want to contract your labor then you write the contract. The
> union isn't interesting in you or your problems, they are interested
> in serving the mob boss, you are just a tool. The employer is buying
> labor and buying in bulk from the mob is often required and sometimes
> less trouble that actualy buying labor frompeople willing to work for
> a living.
>
> If you want to know what the important part ofd the union contract is,
> go to a newly union infected company and see what is always first on
> the table, the one item the mob boss running the union will ever
> negioate over or even take to the membership. It's not the pay or the
> conditions, or the grevience process, it's dues checkoff. That's why
> the union is there.
>
> William R. James
>

And you finally pound the last nail in the coffin of bias. All this time you
present these NRTWforless issues and now your true colors fly ... myths about
the mob boss and insulting workers. Worse yet you aren't ashamed of your
anti-worker bias.



Wm James
2005-05-13 21:55:04 EST
On Fri, 13 May 2005 00:39:31 GMT, "Michael Legel"
<*l@verizon.net> wrote:

>"Wm James" <wrjames.remove@spamreaper.org> wrote in message
>news:krk7811s8j51mhqhb8ft3dgatrg61f9jcv@4ax.com...
>
>>
>> If you want to contract your labor then you write the contract. The
>> union isn't interesting in you or your problems, they are interested
>> in serving the mob boss, you are just a tool. The employer is buying
>> labor and buying in bulk from the mob is often required and sometimes
>> less trouble that actualy buying labor frompeople willing to work for
>> a living.
>>
>> If you want to know what the important part ofd the union contract is,
>> go to a newly union infected company and see what is always first on
>> the table, the one item the mob boss running the union will ever
>> negioate over or even take to the membership. It's not the pay or the
>> conditions, or the grevience process, it's dues checkoff. That's why
>> the union is there.
>>
>> William R. James
>>
>
>And you finally pound the last nail in the coffin of bias. All this time you
>present these NRTWforless issues and now your true colors fly ... myths about
>the mob boss and insulting workers. Worse yet you aren't ashamed of your
>anti-worker bias.

Anti-worker? I'm, quite pro-worker. That's why I oppose unions who
use and exploit ignorant people who get in the way of workers working.
Strikers are by definition, NOT workers. Unions not only destroy
opportunities but include in their contracts clauses enabling them to
punish and fine workers when the non-workers are picketing and trying
to shake down people to support their mob bosses.

Bums need unions. The last thing a worker needs is a union.

William R. James


Ronda Hauben
2005-05-20 13:46:23 EST
Thanks for the comments on my post. But I feel the issue I tried
to raise didn't get addressed.

I was referring to the fact that there is a first step in the grievance
process in the contract I am referring to.

That the first step of the grievance process is for the worker to tell
the supervisor that there is an issue that is being grievanced and
to have a meeting with the supervisor. The worker can at this step
have a union representative involved or can have the union delegate
do the first step or another representative. But there is language providing
for this first step discussion of a grievance.

This first step of the union process is to make it possible for there
to be an informal discussion between the worker and the supervisor
about the problem.

The contract requires this step.

It does not require that the supervisor give a response to the worker
as if there is no response then the grievance can be taken to 2nd step.

But if there is no first step meeting, then the grievance is stopped in
its tracks.

In my post below I was referring to an employment situation where the
employer doesn't respect this first step of the grievance process.

Mike, in your response you referred to the lack of an answer by management
to the first step. I agree that the lack of an answer to this step
is covered by the contract language saying then that the grievance goes
to the next step.

But there is no language providing for the lack of management being willing
to meet with the worker and/or whoever the worker asks be involved.

The language I am referring to is:


: > Step 1 (article 31)
: >
: > Within a reasonable time (except as provided in Article 29) an
: > Employee having a grievance and/or his/her Union Delegate or other
: > representative shall take it up with his/her immediate supervisor.


I am referring to the statement by management that they don't have to
have this first step.

This is a serious violation of the fact that the contract is *not*
only a contract between union officials and management,
but between the workers, union officials and management.

If the worker is left out of the process and the process only involves
the union officials, then there is no basis for the interests of the
worker to be considered.

And if the union officials refuse to bring a grievance at this first
step, then I propose they are violating the worker's right to the grievance
process.

If a union process becomes solely between management and union officials -
as in a situation where there are no union meetings for workers, no
rights for the worker to bring a grievance, etc. then the fact that the
rank and file are left out of the processes, then the situation is
reduced to where the members pay dues but have no democratic rights.

This then ceases to be a functional situation for the rank and file.

The role of the workers in the union official - management processes
is critical.

Ronda


In alt.society.labor-unions Michael Legel <mjlegel@verizon.net> wrote:

: "Ronda Hauben" <ronda@panix.com> wrote in message
: news:d60eq5$4cc$1@reader1.panix.com...
: >I have a question about whether the meaning of the union contract
: > is the plain english interpretation or something different that
: > a member can have no idea of.
: >
: > For example, a union contract reads:
: >
: > Step 1 (article 31)
: >
: > Within a reasonable time (except as provided in Article 29) an
: > Employee having a grievance and/or his/her Union Delegate or other
: > representative shall take it up with his/her immediate supervisor.
: > The Employer shall give its answer to the Employee and/or his/her
: > Union Delegate or other representative within five (5) working
: > days after the presentation of the grievance....
: >
: > 2 (a) Failure on the part of the Employer to answer a grievance at
: > any step shall not be deemed acquiescence thereto, and the Union may
: > proceed to the next step....
: >
: >
: >
: > ---
: >
: > When the union member tells the supervisor that the member
: > would like to have a grievance meeting with the supervisor, the
: > supervisor refuses to have the meeting.
: >
: > The union member is later told by management that a supervisor can refuse
: > to have a first step grievance meeting.
: >
: > However the contract provides for having the meeting. It only
: > says that if the supervisor doesn't give a decision from the
: > first step then the member can go onto the next step.
: >
: > It appears that if the supervisor refuses to have the first step of
: > the grievance meeting, according to the language in the contract, that
: > effectively kills the grievance.
: >
: > However, more recently, someone explained (but this is not in the contract)
: > that a supervisor refuses to meet for a first step grievance. And that
: > the grievant goes to the 2nd step. There is no language in the contract,
: > however, to state that this is the practice and so the union member
: > will not understand this by reading their contract.
: >
: > Other language in the contract states one thing in plain English,
: > but the management does not act accordingly.
: >
: > ---
: >
: > The explanation given for this and other practices that are different
: > from what the language of the contract says, is that there is
: > an arbitratration interpretation that provides for how to interpret
: > the union contract language.
: >
: > Does anyone know if there are indeed such arbitrator's decisions,
: > or other forms of legal activity that might account for
: > overriding the common language in the contract, the language that
: > states process of bringing a grievance.
: >
: > The effect of such legal interpretation, if it does exist, then is to
: > make the contract null and void, and instead this puts in management's
: > hands the knowledge of the arbitration decision, while the union
: > member is left with a contract book which has no meaning.
: >
: > I wonder if this is the actual state of affairs in the American
: > labor movement at the moment?
: >
: > If so the membership is being denied not only any contract protection,
: > but even more seriously, a way to know what the contract actually is.
: >
: > Thanks for any information about this state of affairs.
: >
: > Ronda
: > ronda(at)panix.com

: It is difficult to pull one section of a contractual grievance procedure out
: of context and give good explanation, but it would seem to me from your
: explanation that the grief should automatically move forward in the procedure
: once the time limit of each step is exhausted regardless of answer or
: disagreement by the company. Most grievance procedures only end in the first
: step if the parties reach agreement or the grievant (or union rep) decide not
: to move the grief to the next step. I can't imagine anybody would negotiate a
: grievance procedure in which either side can determine the outcome alone short
: of agreement or the union dropping the grief. As to previous arbitration
: overriding grief ... this will only be so in circumstances very nearly the
: same as those previously arbitrated. There are very few "blanket" arbitration
: decisions that would preclude the use of a contractual grievance procedure to
: resolve issues. Many company labor reps will try to convince employees they
: have no rights to file grief, but it only works if the employee does not
: assert the right. The aggrieved may have to file the grief through the union
: hall, but it is the employee's responsibility to make that happen. If the
: company can convince the aggrieved not to file grief, it is not usually
: accepted that ignorance of one's rights is a grievable issue. Only by
: pressing forward can one assert whatever rights the contract provides. My
: experience was to file the original grief and another grievance on failure to
: negotiate in good faith by ignoring the original grief in the first place.
: But that is my experience with my employer with my contract with that
: employer.

: I would also have to say that it is probably not considered a contractual
: grievance if not represented by the appropriate union rep because almost all
: union contracts are with the union as representative of the employee. This
: protects the employer from having to negotiate with each employee
: individually. So I would say the employee must at some point engage the union
: rep (according to appropriate contract provisions) which might mean actually
: asking the employer for the opportunity to speak with the union rep. The most
: important part of the grievance procedure is reading and understanding the
: intent of the language.



Michael Legel
2005-05-20 15:03:23 EST

"Ronda Hauben" <ronda@panix.com> wrote in message
news:d6l7pf$din$1@reader1.panix.com...
> Thanks for the comments on my post. But I feel the issue I tried
> to raise didn't get addressed.
>
> I was referring to the fact that there is a first step in the grievance
> process in the contract I am referring to.
>
> That the first step of the grievance process is for the worker to tell
> the supervisor that there is an issue that is being grievanced and
> to have a meeting with the supervisor. The worker can at this step
> have a union representative involved or can have the union delegate
> do the first step or another representative. But there is language providing
> for this first step discussion of a grievance.
>
> This first step of the union process is to make it possible for there
> to be an informal discussion between the worker and the supervisor
> about the problem.
>
> The contract requires this step.
>
> It does not require that the supervisor give a response to the worker
> as if there is no response then the grievance can be taken to 2nd step.
>
> But if there is no first step meeting, then the grievance is stopped in
> its tracks.
>
> In my post below I was referring to an employment situation where the
> employer doesn't respect this first step of the grievance process.
>
> Mike, in your response you referred to the lack of an answer by management
> to the first step. I agree that the lack of an answer to this step
> is covered by the contract language saying then that the grievance goes
> to the next step.
>
> But there is no language providing for the lack of management being willing
> to meet with the worker and/or whoever the worker asks be involved.

I would presume the refusal to discuss to be a negative answer in the first
step and would then move the grief to the next step in the process. What I
think, however, is of no value to you. What does your union rep think?



Ronda Hauben
2005-05-31 11:36:27 EST
In alt.society.labor-unions Michael Legel <mjlegel@verizon.net> wrote:

: "Ronda Hauben" <ronda@panix.com> wrote in message
: news:d6l7pf$din$1@reader1.panix.com...
: > Thanks for the comments on my post. But I feel the issue I tried
: > to raise didn't get addressed.
: >
: > I was referring to the fact that there is a first step in the grievance
: > process in the contract I am referring to.
: >
: > That the first step of the grievance process is for the worker to tell
: > the supervisor that there is an issue that is being grievanced and
: > to have a meeting with the supervisor. The worker can at this step
: > have a union representative involved or can have the union delegate
: > do the first step or another representative. But there is language providing
: > for this first step discussion of a grievance.
: >
: > This first step of the union process is to make it possible for there
: > to be an informal discussion between the worker and the supervisor
: > about the problem.
: >
: > The contract requires this step.
: >
: > It does not require that the supervisor give a response to the worker
: > as if there is no response then the grievance can be taken to 2nd step.
: >
: > But if there is no first step meeting, then the grievance is stopped in
: > its tracks.
: >
: > In my post below I was referring to an employment situation where the
: > employer doesn't respect this first step of the grievance process.
: >
: > Mike, in your response you referred to the lack of an answer by management
: > to the first step. I agree that the lack of an answer to this step
: > is covered by the contract language saying then that the grievance goes
: > to the next step.
: >
: > But there is no language providing for the lack of management being willing
: > to meet with the worker and/or whoever the worker asks be involved.

: I would presume the refusal to discuss to be a negative answer in the first
: step and would then move the grief to the next step in the process. What I
: think, however, is of no value to you. What does your union rep think?

The union rep at the time said that a supervisor would be required to
make a negative record about the employee if the employee filed a
grievance, so it would be better not to do a grievance. Later on
he said to go to the organizer to do a grievance. The organizer was
continually asked to do a grievance but continually put it off.

This is why the first step of a grievance is the important step.

It is the step that the worker can bring with or without a union
rep.

This is the step to try to solve the problem informally.

If the employer doesn't allow there to be this first step, then
this reflects the impression and probably the fact that there is no
desire of the employer to solve a grievance. That if a worker
believes he or she has a grievance, then that person will be
subject to harrassment by the employer. That the worker has no
rights.

If an employer doesn't encourage its supervisors to have first step
grievance meetings with workers who request them, without the worker
having any fear of reprisal, then if the union were a legitimate
body, it would seem that it would have to grievance the fact that
the employer doesn't have first step grievance meetings when a worker
requests them.

And this would need to be a matter for arbitration, or other strong
union activity.

If a union gotes along with such a situation, and the union, as in this
situation, has no union meetings for the workers, just delegate meetings
for the union representatives, doesn't bring grievances to arbitration,
and in general doesn't provide workers with any form of support against
violations of the contract by management, then the worker is paying
union dues but essentially is being robbed of having a union since
there is a union that has signed a contract with the employer, but
has no regard for the contract it has signed.

This is a situation where both the union and the management are derelict.

If both feel they are powerful enough to act to disregard the rights
of the workers who the contract is supposed to protect, what recourse
does the worker have?

The NLRB is no longer functioning to protect the worker's right to
a union.

And one might say then it is up to all the workers at the company to
rebel. That may happen one day. But the whole point of unions was that
it was supposed to be a means to solve problems. To say that everyone
at the workplace has to rebel says that the unions have become useless
in their current form.

I knew a union pioneer and he said that it is important to use whatever
procedures exist even if the procedures seem to have been made useless.

It would seem in such a situation that there needs to be a serious
investigation into the state of what has happened to the rights of
workers to a union in the current world of the US.

This is what I originally raised as the challenge that for example,
Andrew Stern of the SEIU is faced with in his supposed battle with the
AFL-CIO. But it seems that there is no recognition on the part of
the supposed rebellious labor leaders that there is a paucity of
democratic rights that current workers in unions such as the SEIU
have.

Nor are they interested when this is brought to their attention.

So though it may seem not important, the refusal of supervisor to
hear a first step grievance, is not trival at all, but in the current
climate of anti union America, a sign of a deep problem.
And the sign that a union delegate doesn't vigorously challenge this
and get support from the union organizer to make it clear to management
that they need to meet for a grievance with a worker when such a
first step grievance meeting is requested, is the sign that, when
one looks at the rest of the union in question's activities, shows
that is indicative of the fact that the contract and the union rights
exist on paper only.

Ronda
ronda(at)panix.com


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