Handling Grievances - Chapter 3 - Fundamentals of Labor Arbitration
Rocco M. Scanza and Jay E. Grenig both serve on the American Arbitration Association's labor panel.
Rocco M. Scanza is an attorney, arbitrator and mediator of labor and employment disputes. He is also the executive director of Cornell University's Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution, where he teaches courses in workplace alternative dispute resolution. Mr. Scanza was formerly a national vice president at the American Arbitration Association. He graduated from Queens College in New York City and Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. He lives and works in Ithaca, N.Y.
Jay E. Grenig is a professor of law at Marquette University Law School. He has served as an arbitrator or mediator in over 2,000 labor and employment disputes. A member of the National Academy of Arbitrators, the American Law Institute, and the Order of the Coif, Mr. Grenig is also a fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. He formerly chaired the Labor and Employment Law Section of the Association of American Law Schools and served as a consultant to the National Commission on Employment Policy. He has written or co-written numerous books and articles.
Originally from Fundamentals of Labor Arbitration
A grievance is complaint by an employee or by a union (and in rare situations by an employer) concerning any aspect of the employment relationship. The collective bargaining agreement defines which complaints are covered by the grievance procedure. The challenge to both labor and management is to develop systems for the creative management of grievances and disputes.
grievance procedures generally contain several steps, beginning with informal discussions and negotiations that can involve different layers of management, from first level supervisors to top management. These steps give the parties several opportunities to consider their positions and resolve their dispute without resorting to adversarial proceedings, such as litigation or arbitration. The grievance procedure subjects grievances to scrutiny from different viewpoints.
Depending on the language of the collective bargaining agreement, the parties’ past practices, the parties’ relationship, and the facts, each grievance will be different. Some may be relatively unimportant to the union or to the employer. Others may probe vital interests of one or both parties that involve important rights of individual employees, the profitability, or even the existence of an employer, or a union’s ability to represent its members effectively.
Most grievance procedures in collective bargaining agreements culminate in arbitration. Grievances that are subject to arbitration usually involve the interpretation or application of the terms of that agreement.
Only the most intractable grievances are arbitrated. Union officials screen out many cases. Others are withdrawn or settled by the parties as a result of informal or formal negotiations. In a healthy labor management relationship, fewer than 10 percent of a union’s grievances go before an arbitrator for decision. Both sides should be concerned if their arbitration rate is higher.
3:02 Negotiating Grievance Provisions
3:03 Grievance Arbitrations
3:04 Pertinent Contract Clauses
3:05 Disposition of Previous Grievances
3:06 Bargaining History
3:07 Past Practice
3:08 Past Disciplinary Action
3:09 Grievance Meetings
3:10 Responding to the Grievance
3:11 Negotiating Grievance Settlements
3:12 Failure to Resolve a Grievance