Unions Should Harness the Power of their Grievance History for the 2020s
Here’s Why and How
by Barry Diederich, Director of Software Development
Grievances are important. All Union members know that. They’re important not just to the individuals who file them, but to the entire Union, because that’s the measure of how well your CBA is honored by the Employer and enforced by the Union.
Aggregate grievance data and statistics, year over year, are key to seeing areas of weaknesses in contract compliance over time. Too many unions are losing their grievance history altogether, or don’t have it in a form that can be reviewed and studied. Too many are using database software simply for case management and ignoring the power of their data to see trends across the membership and units (latitudinal), and over time (longitudinal). Having historic grievance data at your fingertips is key to seeing and documenting violation patterns.
Solving the history problem means considering data over time, over the terms of successive CBAs, and over inevitable changes in technology: computers, operating systems, database engines, software, and file formats have all changed radically since the 1990s. Do you have accurate historical data for contract violations from the 2000s? Are you able to use that data as hard observations and stats in negotiations? Or are you stuck with fuzzy anecdotes and debatable generalizations?
How does Grievance Manager address these issues?
• Powerful aggregate reporting tools, easy presentation charts, and frequency tables that you can generate yourself for further statistical testing, including correlations and significant difference tests. For deep dives, Union Built PC developers can help investigate and deliver specialized reports.
• Application and database are platform agnostic (will run on public or private Linux, Windows or Mac servers), and client agnostic (web browsers on any web-enabled device). Your data will never be stranded or subject to detail loss.
• Data may be exported ad-hoc as CSV, XML, or JSON document formats for complete, platform agnostic portability, in or out of SQL/NoSQL standards.
• Application source code is mainstream technology and open to revision, with no niche or proprietary tools used. Unions may modify their custom apps through Union Built PC developers, or with outside developers.
• Applications can grow and change over time, accommodating new CBAs, new staff, and new technologies.
Here are two examples of how our powerful reporting tools can reveal and document issues causing member grievances.
1. Disproportionate overtime issue. Here is a highly skewed distribution, where one job title, on a one shift, at one facility had 60.6% of all the Union’s OT grievances over the period. While this level of skew would likely already be obvious to second and third step Union representatives, the detail breakdown may be surprising. It may reveal a cause or pose a question: “Why are there so many of these grievances from Techs assigned to the particular Service Centers, and only a few from the System-wide Techs? Has that been explained?”
2. “Management Functions” issues in one Unit (Contra Costa). Here is a quick breakdown of a particular contract article cited in grievances over the period. Very easy research.