File a Grievance
File a Grievance
Union members are the only workers guaranteed a formal system that allows them to seek restitution and provides a forum to express their view of the facts when an employer violates their rights.
This system is called the grievance procedure and is included in every contract negotiated by UFCW 951. The grievance procedure is at the very core of the union contract because it ensures workers are treated fairly, and it provides a method for day-to-day enforcement of the contract.
When a member’s rights – outlined in the contract, defined by health and safety regulations or other legal statutes – are violated, the member likely has a valid grievance. Grievances vary greatly, from scheduling difficulties and public health and safety violations to failure to offer additional hours according to seniority.
If you believe one of your contractual rights has been violated, you should immediately contact your union steward. (If you have been terminated, contact your union representative immediately.) A listing of all union stewards can be found on your union bulletin board. Your steward is trained in all aspects of the union contract and can verify if your situation qualifies as a grievance. Sometimes stewards will need to research the situation, or consult their union representative, to determine if a contract violation occurred. If the steward finds your rights were violated, the first thing they will do is ask management to correct the situation. In most cases, the steward can work with management to resolve the situation without formally filing a grievance.
If management refuses to fix the problem, the steward will file a Step 1 Grievance Form and present it to management. At this time, the steward may conduct a more extensive investigation of the facts to be fully prepared for the Step 1 grievance meeting with management and the member involved (also known as the grievant).
Most grievances are settled at this first step in the grievance procedure. However, if the union and management are unable to reach an agreement, the grievance will advance to the next step in the grievance procedure with the filing of a Step 2 grievance form. At this point the union representative will get involved, possibly conducting his or her own investigation, and holding the Step 2 grievance meeting with management, the union steward and the grievant.
After the Step 2 meeting, most grievances are either settled or discontinued by the union for lack of merit. If the union believes an unsettled grievance has merit, the case may go to arbitration where a third party (called an arbitrator) will make a legally binding decision on the case. Arbitrations are conducted by attorneys and can take several months to process.
There are time limits on filing grievances (most commonly, you have 10 days, but check your contract or with your steward to be sure). It is best to file your grievance as soon as possible after you have been disciplined. If you wait too long, you may no longer have a right to file a grievance.
Most union members never need to file a grievance because management knows they will be held accountable if they violate an employee’s contractual rights. However, the grievance process is an invaluable resource when needed. UFCW 951 uses a tracking system for all filed grievances to expedite the grievance process. Members should contact their union representative at 1.800.999.0951 with any questions about their grievance. Union representatives will return your call within 24 hours.