WOODSWORTH HOUSING CO-OPERATIVE, INC.
GRIEVANCE AND RECONCILIATION BY-LAW (No. 45)
Passed at the AGM on 27 November 1996
(formerly the Grievance Policy and Procedure)
Amended by By-law No. 50 at the GMM on 22 November 1999; Consolidated up to April 2010 and adopted by the members on September 30, 2010.
By-law and committee name amended, Sept. 30, 2010 By-law 69.
As a cooperative community, it is our goal to live together harmoniously. When conflicts arise between members, we should strive to resolve them in a sincere and sensitive manner instead of allowing misunderstandings and personal differences to escalate. The grievance procedure is a means of resolving differences among members of the Woodsworth community which cannot be accommodated through other channels. This procedure should be used only when a member feels that his or her use and quiet enjoyment of the co-op are being unreasonably compromised and threatened by another member or by a member’s guest. The specific focus of this procedure is on complaints regarding interpersonal conflicts.
2. RECONCILIATION COMMITTEE
Relationship with the Board
The purpose of the Reconciliation Committee is to help resolve formal grievances to the satisfaction of all involved parties. If this is not possible, the committee may recommend further action, as appropriate, to the Board of Directors. The committee is not a disciplinary body or a ‘court of law’ within the co-op. It cannot take any disciplinary action against any member or members who contravene Co-op rules or regulations. It can only refer such cases to the Board for resolution.
The Reconciliation Committee of the Co-op shall consist of seven voting members as follows:
(a) six members shall be elected at a general meeting, three each year, for two-year terms.
(b) One director shall be appointed by the board of directors as its liaison and shall attend meetings of the Committee as a voting member.
Grievances shall be dealt with by duly called meetings of the Committee and the quorum for such meetings will consist of any four of seven Committee members.
The Committee shall appoint a Chairperson and a Secretary from among its members. The Secretary shall be responsible for keeping proper minutes of the Committee’s meetings. The Secretary shall also be responsible for storing and maintaining the Committee’s files concerning the particulars and disposition of all formal grievances.
Conflicts of Interest
Members of the Reconciliation Committee who are directly parties to a complaint must step down from the Committee until the complaint has been resolved. Members of the Committee who have a conflict of interest in a dispute must declare that conflict.
The following type of cases shall not be dealt with by the Reconciliation Committee:
Cases Involving Other Co-op Bodies: The Committee is not authorized to deal with complaints against the staff, the administration, or the other committees of the Co-op. Such complaints should be addressed to the Board of Directors. Complaints that fall within the specific jurisdiction of another committee, especially with respect to by-laws, policies, and regulations as found in the Occupancy Agreement, should be directed to the appropriate committee or staff person.
Offenses Against the Law: The Committee will not proceed with a grievance if, after investigation, it considers that the matter should more properly be handled by the police or the courts.
Cases Requiring Professional Intervention: The Committee will not attempt to intervene, or to provide services, where an investigation indicates that help of a medical or social service agency or professional is indicated.
3. GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE
The following steps shall comprise the normal steps of a normal grievance procedure:
A Co-op member who has a grievance against another member must first contact that member in person — as soon as possible after the action causing the grievance has occurred — and attempt to resolve the grievance directly. The only exception to this requirement is where the member is certain, based on past attempts or experience, that such direct contact will be unsuccessful, or where the member genuinely fears that abuse or retaliation may result.
Filing a Grievance
If the member’s direct initiative does not resolve the conflict, then the member should put the grievance in writing and submit it to the Co-op office, marked ‘Confidential — for the Attention of the Reconciliation Committee.’ The member would do well also to telephone a member of the Reconciliation Committee to alert the Committee to the fact that the grievance has been filed. The grievance should include the following information:
the name and unit number of the member filing the grievance;
the name and unit number of the person against whom the grievance is laid;
the nature of the alleged infraction or action causing the grievance, with as many facts and details as he or she considers necessary;
an account of the attempts that were made to resolve the grievance directly, or the reasons why such attempts were not made.
The Committee, having received a written grievance, shall review it at its next regular meeting and determine how to proceed. If the matter is urgent, a special meeting can be called at the discretion of the Chairperson.
Providing that they are confident the complainant has made all the appropriate attempts at an amicable resolution of the problem, the Committee shall proceed to investigate the facts involved in the dispute. The details of the alleged offense, together with the attitude of the complainant, shall be investigated by means of personal interviews with (in the following sequence):
the person complained against;
any available witnesses.
These interviews shall all take place at the earliest possible opportunity. Normally, each interview which involves the principals to the dispute shall be conducted by at least two members of the Committee, each of whom shall be responsible for preparing a written report of the interview.
Review of the Investigation
The necessary interviews and investigations having been completed, it will be normal practice for the Committee to meet again in order to share the information acquired so far, and form an opinion as to whether the grievance is valid, in whole or in part. Note that the Committee members will not inform either of the parties of their opinion as to the validity of the grievance at this point.
The Committee will next attempt to effect a resolution of the grievance. Normally, this will call for further interviews with the parties involved, either separately or in a face-to-face meeting. If a face-to-face meeting with both parties occurs, it will normally be held in a space that does not belong to either party involved.
If a resolution is effected, this will normally end the process. In some cases, the members may agree that the Reconciliation Committee participate in some form of monitoring of the resolution reached.
If a Resolution Cannot Be Reached
If no resolution of the dispute has been effected by the meditation process, the Committee shall then re-examine the issue to determine whether, in its opinion, the grieving member’s use and quiet enjoyment of his or her unit are still being unreasonably compromised. If it decides this is the case, it will normally refer the grievance to the Board of Directors. If, however, the Committee feels that the grievance was of doubtful merit it shall so advise the complainant and inform him or her that the Committee is closing its file on the case. At the same time, the Committee shall inform the complainant that he or she has the right to appeal its finding to the Board of Directors.
All particulars and minutes of meetings shall be kept strictly confidential and shall be disclosed only to the Board of Directors at their request. At the end of each year, and after consultation with the Committee, the Secretary shall précis and record the premise and conclusion of each grievance, to be kept in the files of the Reconciliation Committee and the members involved. This is to facilitate the resolution of future complaints that might involve any of the parties. All related testimony, documents and notes will be destroyed.
Consolidated up to April 2010 and adopted by the members on September 30, 2010.