International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration - Vol. 2

By Jay M. Shafritz | Go to book overview

discriminating against poor people in the Third World by insisting that their aspirations to physical comfort and economic achievement be curtailed while the industrialized countries made only marginal adjustments, if that, to their lifestyles.

Despite the political failure of the Green movement in the 1980s and early 1990s, the issues of poverty, consumption patterns, technology, population, health, human settlement, waste, and trade have not gone away. Politicians are aware of this but find it virtually impossible to offer to a national electorate a range of solutions that cannot be other than at the cost of the electorate itself. To that extent, green politics peaked at a time when Western European voters were insufficiently aware of the significance of the Green agenda. It may well be that supranational arrangements-whether European Union, United Nations, or some other regional or global grouping-will in due course be the setting for a more careful consideration of that agenda.

PETER FOOT


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Carson, Rachel, 1962. Silent Spring. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

Schumacher, E. F., 1973. Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered. London: Sphere.

GRIEVANCE MACHINERY . The method or system established to resolve problems and conflicts arising in applying and interpreting the terms and conditions of the collective bargaining contract. Although virtually any serious employee complaint may be considered a grievance, it does not achieve formal status until it becomes part of the procedure established by law, employment contract, or collective bargaining contract to resolve such complaints.

The complaint, which may be registered by an individual or by a union, may concern any aspect of the employment relationship as it applies to an individual or to some or all members of the bargaining unit. However, to be taken into the formal grievance machinery, the complaint must normally concern the application and interpretation of the language, terms, and conditions of the contract (e.g., alleged failure of the union or management to fulfill the terms of the contract or as the result of disciplinary actions by the employer). Grievance procedures are the heart of contract administration and day-to-day labormanagement relationships. They are specified in nearly all public and private sector contracts. Grievance procedures are found in many nonunionized settings as well.

Grievance procedures are defined and explained procedurally in terms of the type and number of steps involved, official labor and management representatives, time limits, and other considerations.

They are usually designed so that those individuals closest to the dispute have the initial opportunity to settle it peacefully, fairly, and expeditiously. Employer and union representatives investigate the circumstances and facts of the complaint and attempt to resolve it to the satisfaction of both parties.

The typical grievance machinery has four steps. The initial step involves the grievant and his or her immediate supervisor discussing the complaint. If a settlement is not reached within five days, the grievance is placed in writing for consideration by the department head or agency head. At this second step the union steward or business agent becomes involved. In step three, the grievance is taken to the level of the personnel manager or director of labor relations for the employer, and to the local, state, or national union representative by the union. The final step entails final and binding arbitration, which in most jurisdictions is enforceable in court. It is estimated that 80 percent of public sector contracts have formal grievance machinery. Under the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, all federal contracts with bargaining unit representatives have grievance procedures. Nearly all contractual grievance procedures contain an arbitration clause.

A key issue concerns the determination of whether a particular complaint may be taken to arbitration. Certain topics are prohibited from grievance arbitration by law or management rights clauses. Examples include agency mission, employment levels, workload assignments, and governmentwide rules and regulations. However, the procedures for implementing such topics may fall within the scope of arbitration.

Several standards are used by arbitrators in interpreting the contract language that often underlies the grievance. Mutual intent of the parties when they negotiated the contract is of primary importance. If two different interpretations are evident, the arbitrator interprets the language in light of the overall contract, relevant law and public policy, and common sense. Specific language takes precedence over general language.

In public jurisdictions there is sometimes a choice of grievance procedures, depending on the nature of the complaint. For example, affirmative action complaints may be taken to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at the national level or to its state counterpart. Sexual harassment cases may be heard in a special proceeding. At the federal level, the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board hears certain types of grievances directly. Multiple avenues for grievances usually cannot be pursued simultaneously.

The costs of grievances are generally shared equally by the employer and the union. In 1992, US$5000 per grievance was estimated to be the average cost. Employees and union representatives are usually compensated for time spent in grievance proceedings. Full-time union represen-

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International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration - Vol. 2
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