From time to time members face issues in the workplace which concern their working conditions. Under the Collective Agreement, an association member has the right to request the Faculty Association to consider a grievance on their behalf. PLEASE NOTE the early stages of grievances require time sensitive action on your part - don't delay!
WUFA always encourages informal discussion between a member and his/her AAU Head before a grievance is launched. It is always preferable to settle an issue before the union gets involved. If this informal approach does not resolve the issue, the Collective Agreement outlines the grievance steps to be followed for the grievance process.
Material submitted for grievances by members will be treated confidentially by WUFA, and decisions from the various grievance steps will be made available to Executive Committee or Faculty Council if arbitration is recommended by the Grievance Committee. The WUFA VP Grievance Chair, President and Resource Officer all assist with the preparation of cases and will provide any background research or assistance necessary. The WUFA Office maintains the grievance files.
It is vitally important that the member cooperate, be forthright and provide full disclosure of all relevant facts and documents to the VP Grievance Chair and the President. Civility is a requirement of a successful grievance and must be observed by all parties.
A Policy Grievance is a grievance arising directly between the Association and the University concerning the interpretation, application, administration or violation of the provisions of the Collective Agreement. In most cases there are implications for Association members. Click here for a list of outstanding policy grievances.
Steps in the Grievance Process
If a member wishes to initiate a grievance investigation, he/she shall notify the Faculty Association within 15 working days of the occurrence. Once a member contacts the Faculty Association with a workplace grievance, WUFA will normally assign a grievance officer to the case and a Step 1 meeting will be set up within 20 days. All information concerning the complaint is kept confidential within the Faculty Association.
Step 1: A confidential Step 1 meeting is held with the Department Head (or Director, Assoc. Librarian, etc), a WUFA Grievance Officer and the member to discuss the issue and determine if a resolution can be reached.
If the grievor does not think the matter is resolved, he/she must write to the Faculty Association within a further 10 working days and request that the complaint move to Step 2.
In the meantime
- the Grievance Officer will provide a report to the Grievance Committee to reflect the Step 1 meeting
- The Grievance Committee will consider the Step 1 report when determining if a violation of the Collective Agreement has occurred
- The Grievance Committee will decide if the grievance warrants proceeding to Step 2.
- If the recommendation is to proceed, a written grievance will be drawn up by WUFA and the member will be asked to review it for accuracy, and sign an “information sheet for grievors” which outlines members’ rights.
- Alternatively, the Grievance Committee may suggest other methods to resolve the issue outside of the grievance process.
Step 2: At Step 2, the Faculty Association officially owns the grievance and will make decisions concerning all offers of settlement.
- At the Step 2 level, the parties to the grievance are the Faculty Association and the University of Windsor, meaning the Faculty Association is now responsible for carrying the grievance, not the member.
- A formal, confidential discussion is held with the Dean or Chief Librarian, the VP Grievance and the member to determine if a resolution is possible.
- The results of the meeting are discussed at the Grievance Committee, and then a decision is made whether or not to proceed to Step 3. This step can take upwards of a month to occur depending on the availability of all parties to meet.
Step 3: A formal, confidential meeting between the Vice President Academic and the VP Grievance is held to attempt a resolution to the grievance. The grievor does not attend this meeting. A number of meetings may occur to discuss the issue. Depending on the outcome, the Grievance Committee decides if the case should be closed or moved forward to Arbitration if no settlement is reached. This step can take upwards of a month to occur depending on the availability of all parties to meet.
Arbitration: If the Grievance Committee recommends proceeding to arbitration, they notify the Executive Committee and information about the complaint will be shared with the members of the Executive.
- The Executive Committee decides whether a case should be taken to arbitration. They will consider the issue at hand and its impact within the context of the Collective Agreement and on the membership as a whole.
- The cost of arbitration is borne by the Association and this is also considered in the decision.
- If the Executive Committee turns down the recommendation to proceed to arbitration, the member has the right to appeal that decision to the Faculty Council.
- If Council agrees with the appeal, the member will attend the arbitration.
- Most arbitration cases begin approximately 1- 2 years after the Step 3 meeting has been held due to the backlog of cases and availability of all legal parties to meet. Arbitration hearings can be conducted over a number of months. The decision of the Arbitrator is final and binding on all parties.
- WUFA provides legal counsel for the case and the arbitrator’s decision will be available in the public domain once rendered. For a more detailed description of the grievance process, please see Article 39 of the Collective Agreement.
- Arbitration decisions are in the public domain and the Faculty Association will disclose the results as necessary with the membership.
Appealing a Grievance Decision
If the Grievance Committee decides not to proceed with a grievance at any step, a member has the right to appeal that decision to the Executive Committee at WUFA within seven working days of receipt of the letter from the Grievance Committee indicating the decision.
Similarly, if the Grievance Committee decides not recommend that a grievance go to arbitration, a member has the right to appeal that decision to the Executive Committee. In the event the Executive Committee upholds the decision of the Grievance Committee, you have a further right of appeal to Faculty Council. If Faculty Council does not decide to proceed to arbitration, you have the right to file a complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB).
If the Executive Committee or Faculty Council votes to support your appeal, they will instruct the Grievance Committee to resume the case and you will have full representation by the Faculty Association as the case goes forward to the next stage.
Click here to read the Grievance Appeal Process as described in the Faculty Association’s Constitution and Bylaws document.
In accordance with established practice, the Faculty Association and the University enter into a grievance moratorium over the summer months (usually between July 1 – September 1). During those months, no Grievance Committee meetings are held and it is unlikely that any grievance meetings between Administration and WUFA are held either, due to scheduling conflicts over the summer. All active and new grievance matters are placed ‘on hold’ over those months, and their clocks will resume in September when Grievance Committee begins to meet again.
New grievance issues that arise during the summer should be reported to the Faculty Association immediately; this will ensure that all relevant materials are collected and ready for the Grievance Committee’s review at their first meeting in September. If you have any questions, please contact the WUFA office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 519-253-3000, ext. 3362.
Other Useful Resources
To understand the Role of the Grievance Committee, click here
To view the Faculty Assoc.’s Grievance Procedure Brochure, click here
To view the names of people on the Grievance Committee, click here
To view the Grievance Officers Handbook, click here
To view the current, outstanding Policy Grievances, click here.