Are grievance procedures set forth in a collective bargaining agreement different than grievance procedures for non-union employees?

Author: Jessica Sussman

While some aspects of an employer's grievance procedure may be the same for both union represented employees and non-union represented employees, there are also significant differences. For instance, an employer in a non-unionized workplace unilaterally chooses to adopt grievance procedures as a management strategy to improve the employee's performance, as part of a union avoidance strategy, and to reduce the risk of litigation from employees, whereas an employer in a unionized workplace must negotiate and agree on a grievance procedure to be included in the collective bargaining agreement. In addition, an employee in a non-unionized workplace typically represents himself or herself during the grievance procedure while, in a unionized workplace, the union normally represents the employee. Further, in a non-unionized setting, management makes the ultimate decision regarding the resolution of a grievance, as where an arbitrator typically makes the final decision in a union setting.