A grievance is simply the union's objection to an employer action that the union believes violates the collective agreement, applicable case law or government statute(s). A grievance can be initiated by any union member who believes that the employer has violated one or more of the above. The employer is also free to file a grievance aginst the union in the same regard, although this is not as common.

The grievance procedure is comprised of a series of steps in most agreements that have timelines built in to insure that the matter is resolved within a reasonable amount of time. Should the employer and the union be unable to resolve the matter during these steps then either side can advance the grievance to arbitration for a binding determination of the case. Essentially a non bias third party (the arbitrator) will hear the facts of the case and make a ruling that the employer and union must follow.

There are essentially three different types of grievances: Personal, Policy and Group Grievances.

Personal grievances are filed when the employer violates the agreement but that action only affects one individual. An example would be when an employee is unjustly disciplined. As the discipline only applies to the individual a personal grievance is the appropriate recourse for the union.

Policy grievances are filed when an employer action affects the entire bargaining unit. An example would be if the employer began paying the members every 3 weeks instead of every 2 weeks as is written in most agreements. As this action would affect all of the members within the unit a policy grievance would be filed. The resolve will insist that ALL affected employees be made whole.

A group grievance is filed when a group of employees are affected by an employer violation of the agreement. An example would be when the employer arbitrarilly changes the hours of work only within one department.