Is Your Grievance Path Clear?

Grievances. We all got ’em. If you are a union employee, and you think management has violated the labor agreement, you write up your grievance and submit it.

Then the fun begins.

Sometimes the answer is simple and straightforward, the grievance is accepted and the correct restitution is made, or it is denied, your steward won’t support it further, and the issue is over.

Then there are other times where the issue weaves its way through a series of rejections and appeals until an arbitration is eventually used to resolve it. By this time, both parties are trying to set a new precedent or assure an older one is upheld.

And who knows better what is best for the success of the business than a third-party arbiter, right?

Let me be clear on this: I am not pro-union. I have worked with some great union leaders in my roles, and I have worked with some who did a disservice to their constituents. But a model that puts managers and employees on opposite sides of the table just makes no sense to me.

If you are not a union employee, if there is no contract with a set of specific rules that are intended to be applicable to any scenario in the workplace, how do you air a grievance?

If the company is doing its job well, there will at least be a statement or two about how employees are to be treated. “Workplace Principles” is what some might call them. There should be a clear path to follow when you think you have been wronged in some way.

In my experience, management will treat employees according to those principles and according to the law (assuming, of course, that they know the law and have enough HR and legal support to maintain their understanding of the law). When they truly function that way, your treatment will be fair and equitable, and decisions will be made according to what is fair and what is in the best interest of the business.

Do you know the path for airing your grievances? You shouldn’t need representation to effectively manage them. And if you have an HR leadership role, you should be keeping the grievance path well-lit for employees to find.

They may not always get the answer they want, but they need to know how to ask the questions.

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