Magazine article International Musician

Grievance and Arbitration: Powerful Tools for the Workplace

Magazine article International Musician

Grievance and Arbitration: Powerful Tools for the Workplace

Article excerpt

Grievance and arbitration are powerful tools for defending a member in the workplace. Most collective bargaining agreements contain a grievance and arbitration provision. For the most part, these provisions come into play when there is a dismissal, either for "just cause" or "artistic reasons." Usually, there is some sort of committee in place to deal with these situations, whether it's the orchestra committee, a grievance committee, or a peer review committee.

It is important to note that, when a grievance is filed, there are almost always time restrictions governing the filing and subsequent steps in the grievance process. Because of these restrictions, it is extremely important that the union be informed of managements actions as soon as they occur in order to ensure proper filings in a timely manner. Many grievances die on the vine simply because they were not filed within the prescribed time period contained in the collective bargaining agreement. The sooner the union gets involved, the better the chances of resolving the issue, perhaps without even having to file a grievance.

All locals have the responsibility to represent their members, not only at conventions and conferences, but also in negotiations, grievances, arbitrations, etc. But sometimes a local is unable or, even worse, unwilling to supply such services or representation. Every union member has the right to be represented by its union. Not merely represented, but represented well. It is not valid for a union to avoid arbitration by using the excuse that it does not have the money to hire a lawyer. A local officer can and should be able to pursue a grievance through arbitration. Other than the grievant and committee, the union should interview anyone who may have witnessed or has any information relevant to the alleged offense. At some point, a decision has to be made to continue the process or drop the grievance. …

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