What Can I Do if My Union Does Act on My Claim?
A breach of duty of fair representation occurs when the union acts based on improper motivation or in a manner which is arbitrary, perfunctory or inexcusably neglectful. The duty requires that the union represent the interests of all employees fairly and impartially. The union may refuse to file or process a grievance for any number of reasons so long as they are valid; it may not arbitrarily refuse to process a meritorious grievance or decline to proceed to arbitration because of hostility to the grievant or irrelevant and invidious considerations. Therefore, while no employee has a right to have his grievance processed or taken to arbitration if the union determines, in its discretion, that it lacks merit, still the union may not refuse to process or go to arbitration on a meritorious claim simply because the grievant is disliked or is a non-member.
Neither negligence nor a mistake in judgement on the part of the union will support a claim that a union breached the duty of fair representation. The investigation must be sufficient enough to permit the union to make a reasoned judgement about the merits of the grievance, rather than an arbitrary choice. In order to be considered a breach of the duty of fair representation, conduct usually has to involve more than ordinary negligence.
For further discussion, please see: