Who Can File a Grievance?
Individual members of the bargaining unit—that is, you and your co-workers—can initiate grievances under the contract if you believe that the terms of the collective bargaining agreement have been violated. In fact, the law covering your type of workplace may even provide that you have the right to initiate a grievance with your employer without a union representative even being present. But keep a few things in mind if you consider this course of action. First, the law provides that the union must be given the opportunity to be present at any “adjustment” (that is, a settlement) of a grievance—it may affect other people, or set a precedent that could affect other people. Second, past a certain level it is almost always your union, not you as an individual, that has the right to pursue the grievance. And perhaps most important, for your own protection and for the good of your co-workers, it’s almost always a good idea to involve your union representative right from the very beginning of pursuing a grievance.
—Adapted from The Union Member's Complete Guide, by Michael Mauer