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Michael R. Carrell & Christina Heavrin. Labor Relations and Collective Bargaining Seventh Edition. PART IV: The Labor Relations Process in Action. CHAPTER 10 Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures. © 2007 Prentice Hall Inc. All rights reserved. Chapter Outline.

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Michael R. Carrell & Christina Heavrin

Labor Relations and

Collective Bargaining

Seventh Edition

PART IV: The Labor Relations Process in Action


Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures

© 2007 Prentice Hall Inc. All rights reserved

chapter outline
Chapter Outline

Sources of Employee Grievances

Steps in a Grievance Procedure

Functions of Grievance Procedures

Employee Misconduct

Disciplinary Procedures

Nonunion Grievance Procedures

Grievance Mediation

Public Sector Grievance Issues

labor news
Labor News


In 2005 the NY Hotel Association (149 hotels) reported 597 grievances during the previous year

Why?: increased workloads, according to the New York Hotel Trades Council president

Key issue: expanded duties-- cleaning coffee pots & triple-sheeting beds in 14 rooms per day

NY desk clerks and room attendants are among the highest paid in the industry: $20/hr

Union has over 1,000 unemployed members



Any perceived violation of a contract provision

Not just any “gripe”

Grievance procedure: “Core of a continuous CB process”

A specified series of four or five procedural steps that aggrieved employees, unions, and management representatives must follow when a complaint arises

Mechanism for administering the collective bargaining agreement

Most grievance procedures entail four or five steps

Employer’s refusal to process a grievance may be a violation of the NLRA

sources of employee grievances
Sources of Employee Grievances

Clarifying contract provisions under changing conditions

Unforeseen circumstances may change some operations

Disagreement may arise on the contract provisions relevant to the new operation

Support for future negotiations

Union members may be encouraged to file grievances on specific matters that may be used as evidence for the need to change the contract

sources of employee grievances cont
Rectifying a contract violation

Contract cannot address all possible circumstances

Contract can specify how debatable issues should be resolved

Most common source of grievance is the union’s honest belief that management has violated a provision of the existing contract

Sources of Employee Grievances (cont.)
sources of employee grievances cont1
Sources of Employee Grievances (cont.)

Show of power

Union officials may need to remind members that they are representing employee interests

Filing a grievance acts as a safety valve to employees who might otherwise express their normal anxiety and frustration in more harmful ways

Increased pay

Many grievances stem from employees’ beliefs that they are entitled to additional pay

Management, on the other hand, believes that additional pay is not required

steps in a grievance procedure
Steps in a Grievance Procedure

Step 1

Employee, Steward,


Informal Resolution

What happened?

When did it happen?

Who was involved?

Where did it happen?

Why is complaint a grievance?

Step 2

Written Grievance

Step 3


Department Head

Formal Resolution

Step 4

Union Grievance

Committee, Director

of Personnel



Step 5

Final and Binding

Arbitration Before

Neutral Arbitrator

functions of grievance procedures
Functions of Grievance Procedures

Conflict management resolution

Without grievance procedures, parties would rely on harmful tests of economic strength to resolve disputes involving contract interpretation

Agreement clarification

All contracts contain some unintentional ambiguity

Grievance procedure used to interpret contract in specific instances


Offers channel to express problems and perceptions

Discuss perceived inequities in the workplace

functions of grievance procedures cont
Due process

Most grievances provide arbitration by neutral, third-party intervention as a final step

Strength enhancement

Representation in grievance cases develops members’ loyalty to their union

Functions of Grievance Procedures (cont.)
employee misconduct
Employee Misconduct

A broad spectrum of offenses

Serious offenses - warrant immediate discharge under normal circumstances without the necessity of prior warnings or attempts at corrective action

Minor offenses - utilize corrective action

Do not discharge after first offense, provide multiple levels

Specify escalating penalties for additional offenses

employee misconduct cont
Arbitrators decide employee misconduct cases on the basis of:

Management’s consistent enforcement of the pertinent rules

Management’s compliance with the contract’s disciplinary procedures

The employee’s work history

An employee’s length of service with the company

Employee Misconduct (cont.)
employee misconduct cont1
Employee Misconduct (cont)










Most Common


Sleeping or


on the job

Dress /

Grooming &




employer misconduct cont
Employer Misconduct (cont.)

Minor offenses

Penalty for minor offenses determined by how often it has occurred

Progressive discipline for minor offenses

First offense - oral warning

Second offense - written warning

Third offense - second written warning and suspension without pay

Fourth offense - termination

Incident removed from the employee’s record if it is not repeated for a certain period of time

employee misconduct cont2
Employee Misconduct (cont.)

Serious (Major) offenses:

Certain actions can lead to immediate discharge for the first offense:

Discharge must be for “just cause”

Serious offenses are usually identified in the contract

“workplace equivalent of capital punishment”

Arbitrators expect both parties to carefully adhere to the letter and spirit of the contract.

disciplinary procedures
Disciplinary Procedures

Every company at some time must administercorrective discipline

Both labor and management should support fair and effective disciplinary policies

Virtually all collective bargaining agreements outline disciplinary procedures

Management views the right and ability to discipline its employees effectively as the heart of maintaining a productive workforce

Protection from biased or arbitrary discipline has been a prime motive of union organizing campaigns

disciplinary procedures cont
Disciplinary Procedures (cont.)












past record











disciplinary procedures cont1
Face-to-face counseling by supervisor is of critical importance

Should provide the worker with feedback

State the problem

State the preferred action

State future expectations

Describe disciplinary action

Labor-Management Relations Act

Provides restrictions on employee discipline

Prohibits discipline for union-related activity

Prohibits discipline against stewards for giving assistance in the filing of a grievance

Disciplinary Procedures (cont.)
grievance mediation
Grievance Mediation

A voluntary last step before arbitration

Offers the opportunity for a neutral, third party to assist the parties to reach their own settlement

It is not a substitute for the process


Faster resolution of issues compared to arbitration

Both parties may present their case to mediator

Enables both parties to reevaluate their cases before proceeding to arbitration

Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service provides the service without charge

grievance mediation cont
Grievance Mediation (cont.)
  • 2005 study of 3,387 cases over 24 years supports the use of grievance mediation in comparison to arbitration:
    • Cost savings. The average cost of mediation was $672 compared to $3,202 for arbitration
    • Time savings. The average time to mediate a case was 43.5 days – compared to 473 days to arbitrate
    • Satisfaction with process. The participants who were “highly satisfied” with mediation included: 89% management, 68% union, and 47% grievants
    • Increased ability to resolve grievances. Participants (83%) indicated they were better able to resolve future grievances because they learned how to communicate better
public sector grievance issues
Public- and private-sector grievances processed in the same way

At the federal, state, and local levels, grievance arbitration procedures are very similar to the private sector

Grievance arbitration has proved to be a more useful means of contract enforcement than strikes

Expense of grievance arbitration is a concern

Relationship between the parties determines the amount of disagreement regarding contract interpretation

Public Sector Grievance Issues
public sector grievance issues cont
Discipline and dismissal

Government employees afforded constitutional protection

Disciplining or dismissing a government employee is a form of state action

Constitutionally protected acts include

Privilege against self-incrimination

Freedom of association

Right to participate in partisan politics

Freedom of expression

Public sector Grievance Issues (cont.)