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How to Investigate a Grievance in a Unionized Workplace

Author: Shannon C. Johnson

In a unionized workplace, the collective bargaining agreement represents the contract between the employer, the union and its members. Grievances stem from alleged violations of the collective bargaining agreement. The agreement should explicitly set forth the types of disputes that can be resolved by the filing of a grievance and the proper procedures for both parties to follow.

Once an employee or union representative files a grievance, the employer must begin the investigation into the alleged incident(s). The investigation will depend on the employer's knowledge of the alleged violation and the managerial levels at which the violation occurred. In order to ensure a fair resolution to the grievance process, a grievance investigation officer must be designated who should make sure to follow certain procedures. An employee's supervisor may serve as the investigator if he or she is not involved or named in the grievance and there is no existing conflict of interest. However, if the situation is of a serious nature, the supervisor should send the grievance up to the next level of management.