Grievance Basics

“What is a grievance?” “How do I know if I have one?” “Do I need to be afraid of retaliation?” Please click here for Grievance Information. If you have questions you would like to ask a union rep about grievances, please click here.

How do I know if I have a grievance?

Most often, teaching assistants are asked to do work that requires more time than they are hired for. For a 50% TAship, you should not be working more the 220 hours for the quarter, no more than 20 hours per week, and no more than 8 hours a day. If you suspect you are working over your hours, please fill out a workload grid to track your hours and estimate your hours for the quarter. This can be found on our website or by contacting a campus union rep.

****You must be informed of your TA assignment 30 days before the appointment start date.****

Another common grievance is when a department offers a TAship, which the TA signs, and then later revokes the TAship citing lack of enrollment, etc. If you have accepted a TA assignment, the department must find you another appointment at the same rate of pay/percentage or must pay you the equivalent of what you would have received.

Cases of discrimination are also, unfortunately, quite common. If you suspect this or any other issue please do not hesitate to contact a campus union representative immediately and they can advise you on what your rights are.

What do I do if I suspect a violation of the contract?

Always contact an elected campus union representative as soon as possible if you suspect you have a potential grievance (there is a 30 day time limit in which to file a grievance should you decide to). A union rep has training in understanding the contract and can help advise you in accordance with your unique situation. Talking to a union rep is confidential and does not obligate you to take any action. Also, it is important to bear in mind that union representatives are not university employees. We represent only you as the academic worker and not your employer, the university. Should you decide to formally file a grievance, your union rep can help you do this.

Contact a campus union representative here.

If I formally file a grievance, what can I expect from the grievance process?

There are multiple stages in the grievance process ranging from informal to formal. The first move is talking to a campus union representative about your situation. After that, these are the following steps as outlined in the contract:

***You are entitled to union representation at every stage in the grievance process***

Step 1 (Optional)

  • You may discuss the issue with your immediate supervisor, invoking your rights under the contract. Many potential grievances are resolved this way, in many cases your supervisor may not realize a violation of contract is taking place and will move to correct it before further action is taken. It is best to raise any concerns as they become apparent. Generally, departments want to be in accordance with the contract and will work with you to amicably resolve any issues.

Step 2

  • At this step, a formal grievance is filed by your union representative (with your permission) with the office of Labor Relations. This step usually takes place after a step 1 discussion has happened and the department disagrees that there was a violation of contract or refuses to correct the situation to be in accordance with the contract.
  • NOTE: A grievance must be filed within 30 calendar days of when the worker could be reasonably expected to know of an event or action to gave rise to the grievance.
  • Usually, a Step 2 meeting is called where information about the grievance is presented. The people present at this meeting are generally the grievant, a union representative, a labor relations representative, and a representative from graduate division, but it depends on the specific situation.

Step 3

  • If the grievance has not been solved at Step 2, the grievant and/or the UAW representative may file an appeal to the labor relations office. There may be another meeting at this step to present further information on the case. Most grievances are generally settled in this step or before.

Appeal to Arbitration

  • If all else fails, the UAW may appeal to arbitration, where a third party judges whether there has been a violation of contract and what the remedy should be.

We have been very successful with the grievance process as outlined above. Most grievance cases reach a settlement that both the university and the union/grievant can agree to.

What information should I keep track of?

Generally, it is good to hold on to your hiring letter, description of duties checklist, and any communications between you and your supervisor or others who may be involved. Emails should be saved and for relevant in-person conversations, the dates should be noted down along with a description of what was said. For workload cases, please fill out a workload grid with estimates of your hours for the entire quarter based on how much time your work has taken you so far.

Do I need to be afraid of retaliation? What are my protections against this?

The fear of speaking out against a possible contract violation is understandable, however, in many cases, the department or supervisor is not even aware that a violation is taking place and will strive to correct it before any official grievance action is taken. Even after a grievance is filed, the department and the union are able to find a solution to the issue that is mutually agreeable.

Academic student workers are protected from retaliation under the contract and in many cases, teaching assistants involved in grievances did indeed continue to be hired in the same department where the grievance occurred.

The grievance process is part of what teaching assistants have fought for in order to defend their rights under the contract and it is a tool that works.



  1. My committee man came out with a total different grievance and I told him that was not the right one and he said they were willing to pay me 80 hours but they owed me $500 overtime they pay me 80 hours straight time I told him know that next step next you know I had to check in my bank account without my permission that I need to sign off on it before they could do that

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