History and Goals of the Grievance Process

Written Assignment: History and Goals of the Grievance Process Explain the history and goals of the grievance process, paying particular attention to labor arbitration. In your essay, also address whether the grievance process is an effective means of dispute resolution in both union and non-union situations. Explain your reasons and support them with information from the readings and other sources, as appropriate. Criteria to be Considered Have you provided a clear explanation of the history and goals of the grievance process? Have you provided a clear rationale for your view of the effectiveness of grievance process in resolving disputes? Is information from the textbook and other sources, if applicable, integrated into your analysis appropriately? You must provide complete citations for all sources. I prefer that you use the APA style. Is the paper professionally presented? It is important to present your information as clearly and succinctly as possible. (Do not sacrifice thoroughness for mere brevity.) Additional information to consider regarding the labor arbitration: In the U.S. system of labor-management relations, management generally is the acting party; it is responsible for performing the key functions of management including planning, organizing, leading and controlling. For workers, this means that management handles hiring, directing, disciplining and terminating workers. The union’s objective, through collective bargaining, is to limit management’s discretion to take such actions unilaterally and share fundamental rights with management. Management generally acts to implement the agreement; the union is responsible for policing or enforcing it to secure the contractual rights for the union and employees. It is through the grievance-arbitration procedures that the two parties resolve their differences regarding the rights of management and workers under the contract. The grievance process has a formal set of rules and procedures to identify disputes, process the disputes, including appeals and to provide final resolution. Keep in mind that the grievance process is entirely private. The parties agree between themselves on how disputes regarding the contract will be resolved. Since each employer and union are free to devise a dispute resolution procedure that meets their needs, there is no uniform system similar to our court systems. Grievance systems, also referred to as “industrial jurisprudence systems,” are decentralized and individualized to meet the needs of the two parties. The U.S. is unique in this aspect of labor-management relations. Most of the industrialized countries rely on labor courts or other public tribunals to help resolve disputes. The private nature of the U.S. system rarely involves the courts. When it does, courts are limited to enforcing the process that the parties agreed to in the contract. Most contracts now contain a provision for final and binding arbitration to resolve grievances. The Supreme Court’s decisions in the Trilogy cases viewed binding arbitration as the “quid pro quo” for use of economic force in resolving disputes. In contracts requiring “final and binding arbitration,” the parties give up the right to exercise economic power (e.g., strikes, lock-outs) to settle a dispute that arises under the contract. Instead, the disputes are resolved through a neutral third party, the arbitrator. (In situations where the contract does not include a final and binding arbitration clause, the parties are free to exert their power with one another to settled the grievance.) Underlying the Court’s decisions was the public policy of ensuring economic stability for the parties during the life of the contract. With grievance-arbitration mechanisms in place, the common law of the shop dictates requires employees to “work now and grieve later.” This ensures continuity of operations for management yet gives the union the ability to have management’s actions deemed inappropriate and employees made whole for losses that resulted from management’s action. (Keep in mind, these notes are discussing situations that arise during the term of the contract. In attempting to reach an contract settlement, economic power or its threatened use is often used in contract negotiations to persuade one party to settle.) It is often said, “management acts, unions react.” This is true for the grievance process. Very rarely does management bring a grievance against a union. Since management has decision-making rights to run the business, management is the party to implement the contract. On the other hand, the union is responsible for ensuring the rights granted to employees under the contract are not violated. Therefore, it is up to the union at each stage of the grievance process to bring charges and corresponding evidence to persuade management to reach an acceptable resolution. If a resolution cannot be reached using the internal steps of the grievance procedure, then the union may appeal to a neutral arbitrator.