Efficient and Effective Legal Representation

Filing a union grievance: A guide for employees

On Behalf of | Jul 9, 2024 | Union Representation |

You depend on your employer to do what they have promised in a collective bargaining agreement or company policies. Unfortunately, not every employer follows the rules set in place by these important agreements. In these moments, your union is there to represent and protect your interests. What steps might you take to resolve an issue?

Document the issue

Collect all the information and evidence that relates to the issue. This could include emails, statements from witnesses, time sheets and other relevant documents. Having detailed and accurate documentation can make your grievance stronger and help your union support you better.

Speak to your union representative

After gathering your documents and understanding the contract violation, reach out to your union representative. Discuss the problem with them to get advice on whether your grievance is valid and strong. They can guide you on the next steps and help you prepare your grievance properly according to union rules.

They can also help you informally discuss the issue with your manager. This can help clear up any miscommunication or resolve mistakes before taking more serious action.

Express the grievance in writing

If you cannot resolve the issue in an informal meeting, filing your grievance in writing is the next step. You should include a variety of details, including a description of the violation and what you want to fix the problem. Make sure your details are clear and to the point. Turn in the grievance form to the appropriate person or department listed in your union contract, and keep a copy for your records.

Attend a meeting

A meeting will usually be set up with your employer, you and your union representative to talk about the grievance. Clearly present your case at the meeting and point out the contract terms that your employer violated.

Escalation within the union

If you cannot settle your grievance at a meeting with your employer, you can take it to higher levels within your union. This might mean talking to higher-level union officials or a specialized grievance committee. Each step up gives you a new chance to talk things over and find a solution.


The next option might be arbitration. This process offers a structured way to solve the problem, with a neutral arbitrator making the final decision. At an arbitration hearing, both your union and your employer will present their sides of the story. The arbitrator will look at all the evidence and listen to both sides before making their decision.

Throughout filing a union grievance, it’s important to stay informed and involved. Keep talking clearly and openly with your union representative and make sure you understand each part of the process. Your union is there to help, but your active participation is crucial to getting a good outcome.

Consult an Attorney

You may have a private right of action under your Union contract and you may have legal rights beyond the contract based on external law, so you may wish to seek legal counsel from an experienced union and employee rights attorney.