Grievance Timeliness Issues in the Workplace

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Question on grievance timeliness

“I am a union steward.  Recently, a member brought an issue to my attention.  The issue date is far outside the 30 days our contract provides- but I did not become aware until just recently.  Shouldn’t the date I (the union steward) became aware be the date that matters? ” I am concerned about grievance timeliness.

No.  If that was the case concerning grievance timeliness, an employee could come to you with an issue two years later and you could file a grievance.  It just makes no sense.  It is incumbent upon the affected employee to bring the matter to the attention of the union in a timely manner; after-all, they are a party to the Collective Bargaining Agreement as well.  Subsequently, they have an intrinsic obligation to know, and adhere, to the terms of the Agreement.  However, there are certain exceptions, most notably what is called a “continuing violation” or “recurring violation”. Otherwise, the more standard application of “when an employee became aware or should have become aware” is applicable.     

Answer on timeliness

It is critical that employees and union officials review applicable local Master Agreements as well as any existing supplemental agreements to fully address the issue. Most bargaining unit employees should be able to easily obtain a copy of their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) from the local union or agency. Alternatively, you can access the Office of Personnel Management CBA database by clicking here.

Click here to read a great law review article on time limits and continuing violations from the Michigan Law Review.


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