In general a grievance is defined as a complaint or concern. In a union workplace a grievance is a complaint or concern that is submitted to management and the union for resolution. With this in mind, a grievance is any unjust act, practice or condition which management has the power to correct. Contract violations are the most common grievances.
The UPS National Contract doesn’t state exactly what all grievances are. With this in mind, was it a contract violation, a violation of a past practice (a practice in place for a long period both accepted by the union and management), a violation of federal, state, local or provincial law, a violation of employer rules or policies and was it a violation of fair treatment (harassment from supervisors). Laws written to protect workers are considered part of the contract. While you have the right to file with the appropriate agency sometime the agency will request you file a grievance first and exhaust your internal union system before they consider your case.
Article 28 of the Western Supplemental agreement lays out the steps of the grievance procedure. In step 1, any dispute or alleged contractual violation or grievance shall be discussed with the employee’s immediate supervisor and the union steward or appropriate union representative within 5 working days of the known occurrence. In step 2, if the issue is not resolved within 1 working day of the completion of the discussion in step 1 a grievance shall be filled. Step 3 states that within 10 working days of the company receipt of the grievance, management, the union and the grievant shall meet to discuss the grievance and both parties shall make a good faith effort to resolve the grievance. If it is not resolved the District Labor Manager and the union must have a local level hearing within 20 days of the completion of the meeting in step 3 and make a good faith effort to resolve the grievances.
UPS and the union use a panel system and even arbitration to hear cases and issue final decisions on grievances.