For the past 3 years, thanks to the present administration, Labor has been under attack from Republican appointees on the National Labor Relations Board. Trump appointee General Counsel, Peter Robb is a Management-Side lawyer whose claim to fame was helping Reagan bust PATCO. Labor Unions only have to look at his recent General Counsel Memorandums 18-09 and 19-01 to be extremely concerned. Hopefully you will find this Article a valuable tool for your protection.
A Union commits an Unfair Labor Charge (ULP) when it violates rights that the Statute protects. Examples include:
- Refusing to process a grievance because an employee is not a union member
- Threatening an employee for filing a ULP charge
- Refusing to negotiate in good faith with an agency
Proper Grievance Handling:
- Listen to the worker’s complaint(s) —don’t blow them off.
- Investigate what happened, don’t accept the bosses’ word as fact.
- If the worker wants to file a first step grievance, file it, even if you’re not sure of its merits.
- Keep all notes of the investigation.
- Discuss the grievance with the grievance committee or chief steward. Make a collective decision on processing the grievance to the next step.
- Keep the worker or workers involved in the grievance fully informed about what is happening to their grievance. If you must make a compromise settlement, make sure the reason for that decision is explained and fully understood.
- Never allow prejudicial statements to be made about the grievant in a discussion on whether to file their grievance.
- If there is a debate at a union meeting over whether or not to take a grievance to arbitration, make sure the grievance is debated solely on its merits. If one of the officers is personally involved, he or she should excuse themselves from the vote.
- The person chairing the union meeting must rule any derogatory discussion of the individual out of order. The minutes of the meeting should clearly note that such discussion was ruled out of order. If the members vote not to take a case to arbitration because the person who filed the grievance is anti-union, the union can be charged and will most likely lose. If the case involves back pay, the union may be liable for paying that worker’s back wages.
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What you are not required to do:
- If a grievance has no merit, there is no obligation to process it past the first step. Make sure the worker is told why this is happening. If necessary, have several stewards explain the reasoning behind the decision.
- A steward does not have to pound the table over a grievance that is questionable or non-existent. Present the worker’s case in a straight forward manner if they ask you to do so.
- Sometimes a worker has suffered an injustice that we cannot win by pointing out a specific contract violation. Make sure the individual understands that you agree an injustice has occurred but it cannot be won as a contract violation issue.
- There is no obligation to process a “non grievance” all the way to the final step of the grievance procedure. If the committee decides not to process a grievance make sure the investigation is complete and the facts are in order.
- There is no obligation to take every case to arbitration or even conduct a vote on every grievance. As long as the issue has been debated and dealt with on its merits, there should be no problem.