Canada Employment and Immigration Union -

Standard procedure, individual grievances

Dealing with individual grievances is a central feature in the work of a steward, and becoming a good steward is a matter of training and practice. If you have not had training, see our union training section and take advantage of the available opportunities.

This guide aims to assist you when dealing with grievances that follow the standard grievance procedure. (Note that the NJC and classification grievance procedures are discussed elsewhere in the Stewards Guides area of the website.)

The grievance procedure as it is found in the current PA agreement Article 18 is available here. What follows is a brief discussion of issues that typically arise for stewards in the course of their work. However, in all cases the grievance procedure itself should be consulted as the definitive source for guidance.

Submitting the grievance

The grievance is to be submitted to the grievor’s supervisor or officer-in-charge and the employer is responsible for issuing a receipt that states the date on which it was submitted (18.05). The receipt issued is usually a copy(s) of the grievance bearing the date and signature of the individual to whom it was submitted. It is not necessary, however, to submit a grievance on the form provided by the employer (18.07).

Right to assistance, representation and consultation

The grievor has a right to be assisted and represented by the union (18.08). In addition, the union has the right to consult with the employer at all levels of the grievance procedure (18.09).

Time limits

Grievances must be filed within 25 days of being informed, or learning of, the action or circumstances that gave rise to the grievance (18.10). The 25 day time limit excludes Saturdays, Sundays and designated paid holidays (18.16). Note that all time frames used in the procedure exclude these days.

The employer is required, in normal circumstances, to reply within 10 days (18.11) of the date the grievance was either originally submitted or transmitted to a higher level. This applies to all levels in the grievance procedure except the final level where the time frame is 30 days (18.13).

If the employer’s response is not satisfactory to the grievor, the case must be transmitted to the next level of the procedure within 10 days of receiving the written reply (18.11). This applies to all levels except the final level. If the case is not transmitted in a timely way, the grievance will be deemed to have been abandoned, unless the grievor was prevented from complying by circumstances beyond his or her control (18.21)

If the employer does not provide a reply within 15 days at all levels except the final, the grievor must transmit the case within the following 10 day period (18.12).

The time limits in the procedure can be extended by mutual agreement between the employer and the grievor (18.17). This type of agreement should always be made in writing. A statement, signed and dated by the employer representative and the grievor is all that is needed. It can read simply “It is mutually agreed between the employer and ___(grievor)___ that the date for reply to grievance No. _______ is extended to ___(date)___.”

Levels in the procedure

Except where a case is successfully resolved, most grievances progress through three levels. Typically the first level is at the local level, the second at the regional and the third at the national. There are exceptions however, but the requirement for the employer to post the names of its representatives at all levels (18.04) will allow stewards to identify the steps in the procedure for their local.

When the employer demotes or terminates an employee, the case skips the first and second levels and proceeds directly to the final level (18.19).

Where the employer and the grievor mutally agree, one or more levels in the procedure can be skipped (18.18). This does not apply to the final level, however. Agreements of this sort should always be in writing and can simply read: “It is mutually agreed between the employer and ___(grievor)___ that with respect to grievance No. _______ , level(s) ______ is waived and the case will proceed directly to level ______.” Both the employer representative and the grievor should sign the agreement.

The right to file a grievance

This section of the grievance procedure is worth quoting directly:

No person who is employed in a managerial or confidential capacity shall seek by intimidation, by threat of dismissal or by any other kind of threat to cause an employee to abandon his or her grievance or refrain from exercising his or her right to present a grievance as provided in this Agreement. (18.22)

Members have a right to file grievances, and stewards have a right to represent them (18.08).

What to send to the CEIU office

As the grievance proceeds through the levels of the procedure, stewards should forward the following information to the union staff representative responsible for their local:

When the grievance moves from the first to the second level:

  • A copy of the grievance presentation (the grievance form or other document stating the grievance).
  • A copy of the reply from the employer at the first level.
  • A copy of the grievance transmittal authorizing the case to proceed to the second level (the grievance transmittal form or other document).
  • A statement outlining the facts of the grievance as well as any supporting documents.
  • A summary of the arguments used in support of the case at the first level hearing of the grievance.

When the grievance moves from the second to the third (final) level:

  • A copy of the reply from the employer at the second level.
  • A copy of the grievance transmittal authorizing the case to proceed to the second level (the grievance transmittal form or other document).

Without this information, the case cannot proceed. If there is a delay in providing it, the outcome of the grievance will be similarly delayed. The CEIU recognizes that stewards work as volunteers who must manage work and personal responsibilities in addition to their union role, and all efforts to provide necessary information quickly are very much appreciated.

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