Milwaukee Employee Grievance Lawyer
So your union was supposed to represent you when you had an employee grievance, but dropped the ball. The collective bargaining agreement that you signed when you joined the union outlined precise procedures to be followed when union members had grievances. You followed the rules to let your labor union handle your grievance through arbitration rather than sue your employer, but your union ignored your grievance.
Alan C. Olson is the only attorney in the history of the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission to win his client’s costs and attorney fees that he incurred in fighting the union in a fair representation claim. The Commission’s rationale for the award to Attorney Olson’s client was that, when there is a legal duty for the union to provide representation, if the representation is wrongfully withheld, the cost of substitute representation should be recoverable damages.
The union’s duty of fair representation is one that can be violated in any of three ways: (1) if the union acted arbitrarily; (2) if the union acted discriminatorily; and (3) if the union acted in bad faith. Unions have a duty to act “in complete good faith and honesty of purpose” to process the grievance and weigh the merits of the case. A union’s failure to interview witnesses and give the grievant an opportunity to respond to doubts about the merits of the grievance, could lead to the conclusion that the union did not engage in an adequate and good faith handling of the grievance.
Even unintentional conduct may violate the union’s duty of fair representation if the union’s performance or behavior was so poor that it falls outside the “wide range of reasonableness” afforded to the union. Unions can unfairly represent members even when they act without bad faith. Absent justification or excuse, the union’s own failure to timely take basic steps in pursuit of a grievance appeal may constitute arbitrariness.
The relevant inquiry is not whether the union in fact pursues an employee’s grievance, but rather whether the union has made a full investigation, has given the grievant notice and an opportunity to participate, has mustered colorable arguments and has refuted insubstantial arguments by the employer. The duty of fair representation requires that the union do more than perfunctorily prosecute a member’s grievance. “A good faith effort to plead a member’s case is required.”
A Union must especially avoid capricious and arbitrary behavior in the handling of a grievance based on a discharge which is the industrial equivalent of capital punishment. Careful deliberation at the conclusion of a full investigation is no less essential to reasoned decision-making.
There is a place for Wisconsin employees to turn for counsel and representation in cases of union failure such as this. The law offices of Alan C. Olson & Associates, s.c., have helped many Milwaukee area workers resolve complaints against unions. Contact us to schedule a free initial phone consultation. Learn about your rights as a union member Labor Management Relations Act. Learn also about how our employee rights attorneys can help you force your labor union to honor its own collective bargaining contract, through federal court proceedings, if necessary.
Not only will we work to compel your union to make good on your bargaining contract rights, we will also advocate for payment of damages. Let your labor union know that your employee rights will be enforced. Contact Wisconsin employee grievance attorneys at the law firm of Alan C. Olson & Associates, s.c.