The Union has delayed my grievance process since 4/2012 and we still have not gone to arbitration.

I have been working with my union since 3/12 the Employer has not followed the MOU or the Grievance process the union is also in process for new contract and keeps delaying arbitration even though I have requested it since May 2012. What are my options

1 answer  |  asked Dec 27, 2012 2:03 PM [EST]  |  applies to California

Answers (1)

Marilynn Mika Spencer
What has the union said? Has it told you it will not process the grievance at all? Or that it will not invoke arbitration? How do you know the delay is due to the union and not the employer?An important consideration is that the union may not have the resources to tackle contract negotiations and the grievance/arbitration process at the same time. By "resources" I mean personnel, time and money. Most unions try to do the right thing and obtain justice. But please understand that most local unions have limited money and staff resources so they must pick and choose which cases to pursue. Unions have to balance the need for more money (to hire more union reps or to take more cases to arbitration, for example) with the bargaining unit’s resistance to higher dues. This is similar to elected officials who must always balance constituents’ wishes with the need to raise taxes.Sometimes “justice” does not help an individual employee. One reason is that unions have their primary obligation to the entire group of job classifications the union represents; that group is called the “bargaining unit.” Unions have the right to decide whether to pursue a case or not. However, a union cannot make its decisions in a way that is arbitrary, discriminatory, or in bad faith. The standard is much harder to meet than meeting a negligence standard. Some union reps are highly effective; others are incompetent, just as some attorneys and politicians are incompetent. Many local labor unions are run by volunteers. Many union representatives are full-time employees of the employer so do much of their union work on their own time, especially evenings and weekends. Only some unions have enough money to reimburse their reps for missed work hours, such as when handling a grievance. Only some unions have the strength to negotiate “lost time” with the employer, where the employer has to pay the rep’s wages when the rep is handling grievances; this time is usually limited to a low number of hours.Nearly all elected and appointed union officers start out as rank-and-file workers. They may be elected due to work competence, seniority, intelligence, charm, good looks, having a big mouth, blustering, oratory skills, etc. – just like politicians. There is a range of skills and a range of experience among them. Most unions provide some training for officers and stewards, but others don’t have the resources to do so. The quantity and quality of training can vary widely.If the workplace problem is based on a statute, such as any of the laws prohibiting on-the-job discrimination or protecting whistleblowers then a private attorney may be able to help. If the workplace problem is due to the employer’s dissatisfaction with work or conduct, the remedy is probably limited to going through the union.One of the best sources for information about unions and their relationships with the workers they represent is the Association for Union Democracy (AUD) . You may want to visit the AUD website and see if there is anything helpful there. Finally, one thing to consider is that even with faults, unions are the only thing standing between any worker and the employer’s ability to do whatever it wants. Without unions, there is no organized opposition to corporate efforts to take away workers’ rights. It is no coincidence that as union membership has declined, so have on-the-job benefits such as health insurance and pensions. All your life, you’ve heard “there is strength in numbers.” You hear it because it is true. The best way to make a union stronger and better-able to help all workers is to participate in its work. Read the collective bargaining agreement (contract). Attend union meetings, ask questions and think about what is happening at the workplace. Help your union help you.

posted by Marilynn Mika Spencer  |  Dec 27, 2012 2:38 PM [EST]

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