Grievances and Arbitrations

Definition of A Grievance

A grievance is "an allegation, usually by an individual (employee), but sometimes by the union or management, of misinterpretation or misapplication of a collective bargaining agreement."

The Grievance Arbitration Process

The grievance arbitration process is central to the overall relationship between management and unions in Canada. This arbitration process provides the framework for regulating grievances and disputes in the workplace.
Since the collective agreement is basically an employment contract between the employer and a group of employees, a grievance can be viewed as an allegation that a breach of contract has occurred.
However, instead of suing for breach of contract in the civil court (with its delays and high costs), the alternative and speedier grievance arbitration process is used to resolve disputes involving the interpretation, meaning, or application of the terms of the existing collective agreement. This arbitration process plays a very important regulatory role in the overall union-management relationship.
Grievances are filed by the union on behalf of its members. Most of the grievances filed by unions are filed on behalf of individual employees (individual grievances) or on behalf of a group of employees (group grievances). A third type of grievance is the policy grievance which deals with issues that affect all employees.
Grievances are dealt with according to a standard procedure which seeks to solve the issue in the early stages.  Under the terms of the applicable collective agreement which cannot be resolved are successively referred to higher levels of authority before being submitted to arbitration.  Arbitration results in a decision—a contract interpretation—that is binding on both parties.
Should you feel you have grounds for a grievance, contact your Shop Steward.  She or he can help you interpret your contract, seek advice from service officers, and begin the grievance process if necessary.