How to get help with a concern at work
A situation at work has me quite worried. How do I raise the concern with my union?
URFA is your union on campus. We’re here to help you! If you need support or have questions about something that you’re concerned about, here’s what you can do and what you can expect.
What you need to do
- Contact the URFA office directly and as soon as possible.
- If you haven’t received a response to your email within 3 – 4 business days please call or email the URFA office to follow up on your concern.
Tips for crafting your email to URFA
- Briefly outline your concern.
- If your request is time sensitive, include “TIME SENSITIVE” in the subject line.
Note: Copying URFA on an email chain is not sufficient for us to take action. Please ensure you send a direct email to our office as well.
What we do
After we receive your email/phone call, our office procedures for responding to your questions and concerns begin.
- A Member Services Officer will be assigned to support you. They will prioritize your request according to time sensitivity, nature of the request, and other timelines.
- You can expect to hear from a Member Services Officer within 3 – 4 business days.
URFA will always maintain your confidentiality and does not take any action without your explicit direction. We do not make any decisions on your behalf without your consent.
Note: We’ve mostly used the term ‘concern’ in this information. This is because the term ‘grievance’ is a legal term and has legal procedures associated with it. It is possible that your concern may become a grievance, but that may not be known when we begin supporting you.
When is a concern a grievance?
A grievance is a formal complaint made in writing to the employer. A grievance clearly exists if:
- The employer violates the collective agreement.
- The employer violates past practices.
- The employer violates its responsibilities by breaking its own policies, rules and responsibilities.
- The employer breaks the law.
URFA Member Services Officers can identify if there are other circumstances where a concern becomes a grievance. You are always welcome to contact us with any questions or concerns you have.
Does every concern become a grievance?
Not necessarily. Before a grievance is filed, you and the employer must make a reasonable attempt to resolve the dispute through informal discussion. You may present a verbal complaint to your supervisor, or the employer may meet with an URFA representative to discuss the dispute on your behalf. URFA Member Services Officers are trained in dispute resolution and can work with you to attempt to find a resolution.
What are the steps in filing a grievance?
Note: Grievance processes adhere to specific timelines outlined in your collective agreement.
The steps in filing a grievance are:
- URFA submits a formal written grievance to the employer.
- The employer provides a written reply. During this time, the employer may investigate the circumstances and request meetings between the employer and URFA representatives. You may be required to attend meetings during this timeframe.
- If no response or an unsatisfactory response is received from the employer, URFA may escalate the grievance to the next step.
A formal grievance must be submitted within 30 days of your awareness of the incident, except in the case of dismissal for cause. URFA Member Services Officers support you throughout the entire grievance process and can accompany you at any stage.
What are the possible outcomes from a grievance?
- Arbitration: If the grievance hasn’t been resolved in the initial stages, URFA may submit the grievance to an arbitration board. The arbitration board will meet, hear the evidence of both parties and issue a final and binding written decision.
- Withdraw or settle: A grievance can be settled and/or withdrawn at any time.
Who does URFA talk to about my concern or grievance?
URFA owes a duty of confidentiality to members who bring forward issues or complaints. Confidentiality will be protected after the filing of the formal grievance to the greatest extent possible. Relevant information will be shared in confidence within URFA by those who handle grievances.
All URFA staff and Grievance Committee members have signed confidentiality agreements.
Where can I find grievance information and timelines in my collective agreement?
- Campion College: Article 21
- First Nations University of Canada Academic Staff Members: Article 5.8; Article 23
- First Nations University of Canada Administrative, Professional and Technical Members: Article 9.8; Article 37
- First Nations University of Canada Sessional Academic Staff Members: Article 4.8; Article 27
- Luther College: Article 21
- University of Regina Academic Staff Members: Article 21
- Univerisity of Regina Administrative, Professional and Technical Members: Article 31
If you have any questions about concerns, grievances or related processes, please contact the URFA office directly (link to contact info).