Grievance Process

What is a grievance?

According to Article 20 of the Collective Agreement, a grievance is a difference

  • arising with respect to the interpretation, application or operation of [the] Agreement; (20.1.1); or
  • with respect to a contravention or alleged contravention of [the] Agreement (20.1.2); or
  • with respect to whether a difference referred to in Article 20.1.1 or 20.1.2 can be the subject of arbitration between the Parties to, or persons bound by, this Agreement and not otherwise covered by other procedures in the Agreement.

Grievances play an important role in

  • enforcing the rights and responsibilities negotiated between faculty and the Board of Governors in the Collective Agreement,
  • identifying ambiguities and oversights which can be addressed in future rounds of bargaining, and
  • protecting the rights of faculty with regard to hiring and working conditions, health and safety, promotion, and discipline.

If I feel a grievance is merited, what are the next steps?

Step Timelines

Note: See “Grievance Timelines,” below

Pre-grievance consultations

Faculty who believe that they have a grievance should consult with the Senior Grievance Officer, the President of the Association, or the Contract Faculty Representative. These individuals can give advice on the grievance process and give an opinion on whether the situation is grieveable.  See “Are all disputes grievances?” below.

As early as possible after the situation has been discovered. Grievances are time sensitive.

*Days = working days.

See Below

Step One

1. The Collective Agreement says that “the grievor provides written notice of intent to grieve to the responsible Dean, with a copy to the Association.” This wording makes the process seem more daunting that it actually is. Consider a Step One meeting as an opportunity to discuss your concerns with your Dean. In most cases, providing “written notice” entails writing an email to the Dean asking for a meeting to discuss an issue. Your email might say, “Dear Dean X, I would like to arrange a Step One meeting with you so that we can discuss ________. I have copied [name of Association member] on this email and ask that [Association member] also attend the meeting.”

Initial email (written notice) to Dean: within 15 days of knowledge of the act causing the grievance.

 

2. The Association appoints an Association member (usually the Senior Grievance Officer) “to represent the interests of the Association, and its members, in the Step 1 proceedings.” If you have had a pre-grievance consultation, you will already know who this person will be.
3. A meeting is arranged, usually by the Dean’s Administrative Assistant, to discuss the alleged contravention. This meeting will be attended by the grievor(s), the Dean, and the representative of the Association. The relevant Chair may also be asked to attend in an advisory role, should the Dean deem this necessary. Meeting(s) with the Dean, etc., must take place within 10 days of the written notice (your email asking for a meeting with the Dean).
4. The Dean has five days after the Step 1 meeting(s) to resolve the grievance. If the grievance is resolved to the member’s and the Association’s satisfaction, the grievance ends at Step One. If the grievance is not resolved, then the Association may decide to advance the grievance to Step 2. Note that the grievor does not decide to advance to Step 2, though the Association will take the grievor’s wishes into account in making a decision. The Dean has five days from the date of the Step One meeting(s) to resolve the grievance.
Step Two (When grievance is advanced from Step One)

1. After the expiration of the five day waiting period described above, the Association has an additional ten days to decide whether to advance the grievance from Step 1 to Step 2.

[Dean has 5 day decision period].

Association has 10 additional days to decide whether to advance to Step 2.

2. If the Association decides to advance to Step 2, it will provide written notice to the Provost and Vice President, Academic that the grievance is advancing to Step 2. Within the 10 day period described above.
3. The Association (usually the Senior Grievance Officer) will state the grievance in writing within five days of the written notice to the Provost. This statement will include the nature of the grievance, the articles the Association alleges were violated, and the remedies sought. The written statement will be sent to the Provost and VP, Academic and the President of the Faculty Association. Within five days of notice to the Provost and VP, Academic that the grievance is advancing to Step 2.
4.  The Provost and VP, Academic and the MRFA President meet to attempt to resolve the grievance. Within fifteen days of the VP Academic and Provost receiving the written statement of grievance, the Provost and VP, Academic and the MRFA President shall render their decision in writing.

The Provost and VP, Academic’s and the MRFA President’s decision can be any of the following:

a.  A settlement

b. A report that the grievance has been partially settled and a recommendation that the grievance be referred to Step 3.

c. A report that the grievance was not resolved, with a recommendation to move to Step 4.

Within fifteen days of the statement of the grievance in writing, the Provost and VP, Academic and the MRFA President meet to discuss and attempt to resolve the grievance. They render their decision.
Step Two (When the Association initiates the grievance)

1. Association-Initiated Grievances.

a. Not all grievances are brought forward by individuals. Sometimes, the Association may decide to advance a grievance on behalf of its membership. If the Association initiates a grievance, the grievance begins at step two.

b. Grievances related to demotion, suspension, or dismissal

Grievances related to demotion or suspension may begin at Step 2. Grievances related to dismissal always begin at Step 2.

The Association must provide written notice to the Provost and VP, Academic within 15 days of knowledge of the act causing the grievance.
2. The Association states the grievance in writing Within five days of written notice of intent to grieve
3. The Provost and VP, Academic and the MRFA President meet to attempt to resolve the grievance. Within fifteen days of the VP Academic and Provost receiving the written statement of grievance, the Provost and VP, Academic and the MRFA President shall render their decision in writing.

The Provost and VP, Academic’s and the MRFA President’s decision can be any of the following:

d. A settlement

e. A report that the grievance has been partially settled and a recommendation that the grievance be referred to Step 3.

4. A report that the grievance was not resolved, with a recommendation to move to Step 4.

Within fifteen days of the statement of the grievance in writing, the Provost and VP, Academic and the MRFA President meet to discuss and attempt to resolve the grievance. They render their decision.
Step Three

1. Step Three involves the formation of a Grievance Committee, as defined in Article 20 of the Collective Agreement. In order for Step 3 to occur, both the Provost and VP Academic and the MRFA President must agree.

Grievance Committee is appointed within 5 days of Step Two recommendation to move to Step 3.

 

2. The Grievance Committee meets to attempt to resolve the grievance. Grievance Committee meets within 10 days of being appointed.
3.  Step three may result in

  • A settlement
  • A statement that the committee could not resolve the grievance. If the grievance cannot be resolved, it may be advanced to Step 4.
Grievance Committee delivers its report to the Provost and VP Academic and the President of the Association within 15 days of the date of its first meeting.
Step Four

If there is no resolution at Step 2 or if there is no resolution at Step 3, the Association and the Board will review the grievance and decide whether or not to proceed to Step 5 (Arbitration). In making a decision to proceed to Arbitration, the Association will consider the seriousness of the grievance, a lawyer’s opinion regarding the potential success of the grievance in arbitration, the potential harm to a member’s reputation when the Arbitration becomes public, the cost to members of the Association, and the consequences of not advancing a meritorious grievance.

20 days of receipt of Step 2 or Step 3 report.
Step Five

Arbitration Board—See Article 20

Grievance timelines

  1. Timelines
  2. Deadlines. The grievance process is subject to strict timelines. It is therefore important to give notice of the intent to grieve within the time limits specified and to be aware of deadlines throughout the process. If you fail to process a grievance during the time frames set out in Article 20, your grievance will not be considered.
  3. Days. Timelines are calculated in terms of “Days.” In the Collective Agreement, a “Day” is a normal working day. Saturdays, Sundays, and statutory holidays (as defined in Article 15.6) do not count in the calculation of grievance timelines. Neither does the May 15 to August 14 vacation period (see the next point).
  • May 15 to August 14. Grievance timelines are suspended during this period. However, if all parties are available to meet and wish to resolve the grievance quickly, grievances can be settled during this time.
  1. Extending timelines. Grievance timelines can be extended, but only if the President of the Faculty Association and the Vice-President, Academic agree in writing to the extension.

Are all disputes grievances?

No.

Grievances relate to items covered in the Collective Agreement. Other issues are covered through University policy or the Canadian legal system. For instance, if a faculty member smoked cigars in their office, this would be dealt with under the University’s Smoking Policy. Similarly, if a faculty member were in an alleged conflict of interest, this would normally be handled through the Conflict of Interest Policy. If a faculty member committed an act of vandalism or theft, there might be disciplinary proceedings, but the University could also refer the case to the legal system.

Examples of potential grievances

  1. A faculty member is suspended for one year as a result of a disciplinary procedure. The faculty member and the Association argue that the disciplinary process was not followed correctly. (Article 25)
  2. A contract faculty member applies for a course and the course is given to another person. They argue that they should have received the course because they have taught it six times before. (Article 4.8)
  3. A faculty member creates course materials and posts them on BlackBoard. The Department decides that the materials will be shared with all new instructors. The faculty member argues that they did not give permission for this to occur and there has been a breach of intellectual property rights. (Article 19)
  4. A tenure track faculty member receives a low score on an SEI and is told by the Dean that for the next two semesters the faculty member must have SEIs completed in all of their courses. (Article 28)