FAQ: Grievances and arbitration

  • What do I do if feel my rights are violated or my access to benefits is denied?
  • What is a grievance?
  • What is arbitration?
  • What are the steps of a grievance?
  • What are the types of grievances?
  • Are the deadlines important?
  • What are the duties and responsibilities of the griever?
  • What are the duties and responsibilities of the union?
  • What if I disagree with the remedy of my grievance?

What do I do if feel my rights are violated or my access to benefits is denied?

You should call us immediately (see Contact us). These questions are time-sensitive, and they should be dealt with as early as possible.

The APTPUO can take actions on rights, benefits and procedures defined in the collective agreement. If the Employer violated one or several articles of the collective agreement, a grievance may be filed.

Some actions may be legal because they are not protected by the collective agreement or because they are within the Employer's rights to manage the workplace.

By contacting us, we will be able to inform you of what can be done in your case. We will inform you of the procedures. You could meet an APTPUO official to discuss your case further.

What is a grievance?

A grievance shall be defined as any difference between the parties to the Collective Agreement arising out of the interpretation, application, administration, or alleged violation of the Collective Agreement.

(Reference ARTICLE 4.1 [DEFINITION OF A GRIEVANCE])

The Collective Agreement (available here) is the collective contract between part-time professors and the University of Ottawa. It outlines your rights, your benefits and important procedures pertaining to important dimensions of your work.

For more information on grievances, please refer to the Ontario Ministry of Labour's Web page: http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/lr/faqs/lr_faq4.php#what4

What is arbitration?

According to the Ontario Ministry of Labour, "arbitration is a quasi-judicial process in which a disinterested third-party (an arbitrator or arbitration board) hears evidence presented by both the union and the employer on issues in dispute, and hands down a binding decision."
 
(Reference: Ontario Ministry of Labour, http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/lr/faqs/lr_faq4.php)

For information on arbitration, please refer to the Ontario Ministry of Labour's Web page on the matter: http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/lr/faqs/lr_faq4.php

What are the steps of a grievance?

A grievance is a 3-step process during which the APTPUO and the Employer try to settle a case.

Each step gives an opportunity for both sides to settle this case. If the matter is not resolved, then the matter is addressed at the next step, until it reaches arbitration. Arbitration is the last step (see What is arbitration?).

Grievance

What are the types of grievances?

An individual grievance is the result of one member filing a grievance.

A group grievance is the result from a consolidation of similar individual grievances seeking a common redress. It can be initiated by the APTPUO at step two (see above).

A policy grievance involves a question of general application or interpretation of this Agreement. It can be initiated by the APTPUO at step three (see above)

Are the deadlines important?

Yes. If action is taken after the deadlines, the Employer may refuse to hear your case and/or to provide a fair settlement. Deadlines may be extended for just cause, and the Employer may agree to extend them if just cause is proven. But extending the deadline needs the agreement of both parties, and the Employer may be reluctant to do so under particular circumstances.

(Reference: ARTICLE 4.5. [TIME LIMITS])

What are the duties and responsibilities of the griever?

The griever has to contact the APTPUO as soon as they have concerns over a situation detrimental to him/her or to a group of members.

The grievor has to answer every question of the Grievance Officer. He/She has to provide information to the APTPUO, as well as evidence and witnesses that support his/her claim.

The grievor should provide all the facts, all the details.

What are the duties and responsibilities of the union?

As a union member, you are entitled to receive services. These services include representing you in front of the Employer during a grievance process. The APTPUO has therefore a "Duty of Fair Representation", which is defined in the Ontario Labour Relations Act and in the jurisprudence of the decisions of the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

The "Duty of Fair Representation" (abrev. DFR) says that a trade union shall not act in a manner that is arbitrary, discriminatory or in bad faith in representing its members.

The Ontario Labour Relations Board states the following on this matter:

A union can consider any legitimate factors other than the grievor's interests. One factor can be the union's promise to the employer that it would not advance a particular interpretation of the contract. Another factor may be the possibility of a negative effect of a victory on the other employees in the unit. Or the issue may not be significant enough to warrant the necessary time and money for the resolution the grievor seeks. The union must weigh these factors fairly against the wishes of the grievor.
 
Sometimes a conflict between the interests of the grievor and the bargaining unit as a whole arises after the union has decided a grievance has merit. This often occurs during negotiations for a new collective agreement. The union and employer may wish to settle grievances in exchange for concessions in the agreement. The union is not prohibited from entering into such arrangements.
(Reference: Ontario Labour Relations Board: http://www.olrb.gov.on.ca/english/infob/infbul12.pdf)

What if I disagree with the remedy of my grievance?

The grievance may be pursued to the next steps, including arbitration.

However, although a member or group of members may be directly concerned by the situation, the grievance belongs to the union. It is up to the union to make the decision to file a grievance, or to pursue it, or to go to arbitration. The griever may seek remedies. But the union's duty is to take reasonable steps towards the remedies sought by the griever.

The final decision on how far a grievance should be processed, and whether or not a grievance should go to arbitration, is made by the union and not the grievor. The legislation does not require a trade union to carry a grievance to arbitration simply because a member wishes to do so.

Refer to "What are the duties and responsibilities of the union?" above.