Today in Labor History: May 20; Member Tip

Today in Labor History: May 20
The Railway Labor Act takes effect today. It is the first federal legislation protecting workers’ rights to form unions – 1926
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Member Tip: Who Can File a Grievance?
Individual members of the bargaining unit—that is, you and your co-workers—can initiate 2015.05.18-membertip-grievancegrievances under the contract if you believe that the terms of the collective bargaining agreement have been violated. Unions themselves also initiate grievances. As the exclusive representative of everyone in the bargaining unit, the union has the right—and, quite often, also the legal obligation—to use the collective bargaining agreement to challenge the employer’s improper or unfair actions. The union will sometimes file grievances over employer conduct that affects everyone in the bargaining unit—for example, if a unilateral employer directive limits everyone’s ability to take leave days. The union may also file grievances on behalf of one particular group of employees, such as workers on one shift who are denied proper pay. And there is a third possibility: sometimes the union finds it necessary or politically desirable to initiate a grievance on behalf of a single individual. (This may be a useful way to provide some “protection” to that individual, or perhaps to send a message to the employer that the union stands firmly behind this one employee.)
—Adapted from The Union Member’s Complete Guide, by Michael Mauer