A grievance is a dispute between an employee and his/her employer. In the federal sector, unions and agencies are required to have a “negotiated grievance procedure” in place to allow employees and agencies to resolve such disputes; it is one of the advantages of federal union representation. POPA’s current negotiated grievance procedure can be found at Article 11 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
If you are a member of the POPA bargaining unit and believe that you have been treated unfairly or inequitably by the agency (Article 4, Section 7), your supervisor or director, and you do not believe you can work out the issue through informal discussion, you may consider filing a grievance.
You only have 20 calendar days from the event or decision that you are grieving to inform your supervisor that you are grieving. You may file a grievance with or without POPA representation.
It is a good idea to discuss your issue with a union representative who works on grievances to help you decide. Please complete this FORM to intiate a consultation with POPA’s Grievance operation. Dave Reip is POPA's Grievance Director.
During that initial consultation, you will be able to discuss your factual situation and obtain information about whether the agency action is supported by law, policy or agreement. You will also discuss the likelihood of success if you go forward, the pros and cons of doing so, and what is involved in the grievance process.
If you decide you want POPA to represent you, the POPA representative working with you will determine if there is a reasonable basis for moving forward and if moving forward on your behalf is a good decision for you, based upon what you are trying to achieve through the grievance process. Also, POPA will consider in making a decision the impact of filing your grievance on the rest of the bargaining unit. Whether or not POPA represents you, you can move forward with your grievance.
The POPA representative will explain the steps you have to take to do this. The very first step is to send an email to your supervisor letting him/her know that you are filing a grievance over an action or event.
The next step is a meeting at which you and/or your POPA representative will present the grievance to management. Once you receive a response to your presentation, a formal grievance paper has to be filed within 10 calendar days, unless the time is extended by the agency. This formal paper is the opportunity to set forth your issue, the reasons why you believe the agency decision or action is incorrect or unfair, and your requested remedies. Once again, the agency will respond and you will have 10 days to file a final argument paper called “Exceptions to the Agency Response.” The agency will then issue a final decision.
If you want to pursue that issue further, the next step is arbitration. Only POPA can take a case to arbitration, so you or your representative will have to take the situation to the POPA Executive Committee to vote on whether or not your case should go to arbitration.
The entire process can take a long time and may require the filing of requests for information to the agency or gathering of evidence, but frequently grievances are settled or otherwise resolved early in the process. Sometimes it is just a matter of the agency providing more information to the employee or the employee presenting more information or more detailed arguments to the supervisor.