The grievance process is governed by article 22 of our Collective Agreement. As outlined there, “a grievance is a claim that there has been a violation, improper application or non-application of the terms of this Collective Agreement,” including “issues of process and procedural fairness.” Grievances can be filed on behalf of an individual member, or the Association can file a grievance against a policy of the institution if it violates the Collective Agreement and impacts multiple members. The Association has carriage rights, which means that all grievances against the university must be filed by ULFA and not by individual members themselves.
If you think the terms of the Collective Agreement have been breached by the employer, or that a process or procedure has been unfair, you should contact ULFA staff immediately! There is a 60 working day limit to file a grievance from the date the related incident occurred. Ongoing issues reset this time limit, but it applies to an issue once it has ceased to be ongoing.
The initial phase of the grievance process is communication with your union. When you contact ULFA staff, we will ask you to confidentially share the details of your situation. We will listen to you and ask questions about your situation that may help us in the grievance process. After we initially consult with you, we will carefully examine the Collective Agreement and any relevant legislation. With your permission, we will forward your issue to the Grievance Committee, which reviews all potential grievances for merit. While we always have the best interests of our members in view, there are limits to what can be successfully grieved.
Once the Grievance Committee has reviewed the details of the case and determined that there is an eligible grievance, we move on to the first step of the grievance process by contacting the employer (i.e. the administration of the university). The first step of the process is an informal meeting with the employer where we discuss the issue and seek a mutually agreeable resolution.
In the event that a mutually agreeable resolution cannot be found at the informal meeting, we move on to the second step of the grievance process by filing a formal grievance. At this stage ULFA presents their grievance claim in writing to the Administration. The Administration then investigates the matter and presents a written report of their findings to ULFA. We then assess the report, and either accept or reject its findings. If the report is rejected by ULFA, the two sides meet again to resolve the grievance. If a solution cannot be found at this stage, either side may refer the case to arbitration, which is the third and final step of the grievance process.
Arbitration can be lengthy and costly. At this step of the grievance process, the two sides mutually agree to an arbitrator who will review their written submissions and issue a binding decision on the matter. Both sides share the cost of arbitration, and a mutually agreeable solution can be proposed during the arbitration process before the arbitrator’s decision is issued.
More details of how the grievance process works at each stage can be found in article 22 of the Collective Agreement. Keep in mind that there is a time limit on when grievances may be filed, so contact ULFA immediately if you believe there is an eligible grievance matter that we need to know about. Remember that we’re on your side, and we’re here to protect your rights as established through the collective bargaining process!