Your Right To Union Representation
Understanding the Grievance Process
As a union member, you have certain rights you would not have if you were working at a non-union airline. One of those rights is to file a grievance over a violation of your contract or unfair discipline.
If you are called to a meeting with management that might result in discipline, what should you do? Call a trained grievance representative or an AFA-CWA officer. You have a right to a representative or a witness in situations like this. Discipline of employees should be corrective – not punitive. In other words, for first offenses, coaching and warnings should suffice. If the infractions continue, then loss of pay might ensue. This is known as “progressive” discipline. Exceptions to this rule are for serious infractions such as theft.
Your union officers cannot be everywhere at once, and our “eyes and ears” cannot see and hear all that occurs on the line. It is the responsibility of every flight attendant to know your contract and call a union representative in a timely manner if the contract is violated or if you are called in for discipline.
Follow these steps if you are called in for a meeting with management:
- Call an LEC officer and request that a grievance rep accompany you. If that is not possible, get their advice before the meeting.
- If unable to match the meeting with the availability of a union rep, let management know you are going ahead with any meeting without a representative “under protest.”
- Do not say anything in the meeting which might be used against you.
- Take notes on everything that is said in the meeting and call one of your AFA-CWA leaders when the meeting is over.
- AFA-CWA, as the certified bargaining representative, is entitled and obligated to provide representation for you. We will attempt to find a satisfactory solution.
- AFA-CWA provides training for our grievance representatives and we have excellent lawyers on staff to assist us. The initial hearing with management is only a first step in the process. If the decision at the lower level is unsatisfactory, we have the right to proceed to System Board. Under the Railway Labor Act, we can take our grievances to final and binding arbitration by a neutral arbitrator.
AFA-CWA representatives can help make an investigatory meeting proceed more coherently by helping the flight attendant bring out the relevant facts in a truthful and forthright manner and by assuring that “principles of just cause” are followed by management.