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Action Center

Is it a grievance? Or a gripe?
Updated On: Mar 06, 2014

A Violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement

Members tend to use the term 'grievance' to describe anything and everything that might be wrong in the work place.  In fact, the term grievance has a specific legal definition.   A Violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement is the most direct definition of a grievance.    This specifically means that the contract states one thing, but your employer is doing something different.   This should be reported to your Shop Steward and/or USWU Representative as soon as possible.   You may also address the grievance directly with your supervisor and ask them to correct the situation.   You should note the time and day that you spoke.  You may also want to document the conversation in a follow up memo or e-mail.   If you do not believe your supervisor will be helpful, you, of course, may contact the Union Representative directly and set up an appointment to meet.  A grievance may also be a violation of a Past Practice.  If the employer has consistantly allowed a benefit and both the employer and Union were aware of that benefit, the employer can not unilaterally stop offering that benefit.  If they do, the Union may file a grievance or an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the Public Employee Relations Commission (PERC) 


A Complaint/Concern about a co-worker.

If you believe a co-worker is acting inappropriately, it should be reported to your supervisor.   If the problem is with your supervisor, you should go to Division or Department Director.   If you do not feel that the issue is being addressed, you may want to file a formal complaint with the Department of Personnel.  Inappropriate behavior in the workplace is a violation of the County Policy and will need to be investigated.  The fact that your co-worker annoys you or doesn't say 'good morning' isn't grounds for a harrassment or hostile work environment charge. 

Its not a Grievance or Harrassment but its still an issue.  What can you do?

While a steward may be approached by a member who is seeking help with a serious issue that is big concern from him or her; many of the issues that members bring to the Union aren’t necessarily obvious violations of the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. Instead, sometimes the issues might be interpersonal disputes between members or specific concerns about how management is managing.    If the issue isn’t a grievance but is still something of importance to the member (a “gripe” for the purposes of this article), then the union should pursue other methods of dispute resolution.

When trying to distinguish between a grievance and a gripe, it’s helpful to remember a humorous but true statement: Management has a legal right to manage badly. Just because some management action is stupid or wasteful doesn’t mean that it is necessarily a grievance.  But you may want to bring it to the attention of your shop steward or representative.   They may take alternate action such as:

  • Call an informal meeting: Asking management to explain their reasoning and listen to the concerns of employees can be illuminating for both management and labor. Very often management makes bad decisions oblivious to the impacts of workers. Conversely, what may appear to be a bad decision will make more sense to the employees once management fully explains their reasoning.

  • Address the issue to the Health and Safety Committee

  • Notify PEOSHA or the County Industrial Hygenist

  • Circulate a petition: A concise (and polite) petition explaining the concern and proposing a solution can bean ideal way to help members feel empowered and showmanagement that employees are united in their desire to see the problem resolved.

  • Bring the issue to the attention of managament in hopes that they will see the error of their ways

  • Bring the issue to the attention of the Freeholders or the Public

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