Yes, you can speak up!

It is very important to touch base with a union representative if your employer takes an action that alters your wages, hours or working conditions in a way you suspect violates our contract or the law — or if you just want to see if that is the case.

The longer a condition is allowed to exist, the more difficult it can become to eliminate or reverse it. Your contract specifies certain conditions and law specifies others. The remedy may well be through a grievance procedure that, for the most part, only union-represented employees are entitled to.

Another important caution is to bring a union representative into any meeting with management that is or could be disciplinary in nature. This is not necessarily to take your argument out of your hands, but you better believe having a second set of eyes and ears in the meeting room protects you if someone later disputes your account of that meeting. And before the meeting starts, you can’t know what will play out.

The Guild can also assist you in obtaining your legal right to compensation, health and safety protection and a just work environment.

The Grievance Process

A grievance can be filed to resolve a contract violation. Your Guild representative or board will give you an honest evaluation of whether there are grounds for a successful grievance.

Typically, the procedure begins with a direct sit-down with the supervisor who we feel has acted improperly or failed to meet their supervisory responsibilities.

If not satisfactorily resolved, the grievance may be brought to the department head level and, finally, to the company level. Failure to reach accommodation in either of these two steps may result in the two sides bringing a dispute to an arbitrator, who issues a binding ruling.

Like a judge, an arbitrator weighs evidence from all sides, as well as contract language, law and precedent. Remedies may be financial or repair damage in some other aspect of the work environment.

Knowing what your contract contains is a great way to catch a problem early and, hopefully, stop it in its tracks.