Practice Areas: Union Hearings
Many employers are members of unions and therefore their employment is subject to some extra protections. At least that what the employees believe. A Union, as a collective bargaining unit, is supposed to watch out for the employees’ rights and help employees whenever they have a conflicting or difficult situation at work.
It is a union who has a right to grieve an employer if an employee’s rights got offended. An employee in this situation is more like an interested party. The main players in this play are the union and the employer. Often a grievance undergoes several levels of hearings called “steps.” If during the “steps” the grievance is not resolved, a union has an option to bring the case to arbitration. However, a union does not have to do so.
Unions are different, and their rules and practices are different. Some unions allow private attorneys who represent employees to be present at the union hearings, and some do not. If a union allows that, than an employee will be offered to sign a waiver specifying that a private attorney will be representing such an employee.
Also, in almost every case where there is a union, a union produces documents that specify how and when an employee may be disciplined. Often, an employer has to follow what is called a “progressive discipline” when imposing a discipline on an employee.
Whatever the grounds for the discipline are, in most cases, at the hearing, the parties will engage in the fact-finding process , usually limited to the testimony of the employers and employee. It is essential, that an employee prepares very well before the hearing, because an employer might use his/her statements in the future judicial or arbitration proceedings.
Union hearings can be stressful and unpredictable. A private attorney at the Union hearings is representing only his/her client. It allows an attorney to look at the case from a position that often differs from the union’s or an employer’s position.