We take great pride in providing our Union and Wokers’ Compensation clients with the best advice and representation. This post will be primarily limited to the Union side of things as that is what I have specialized in for the last 27 or so years of my life and professional career.
Here is a brief overview of tips on processing and investigating grievances:
First, keep your grievances short and to the point: list the contract section/article involved, the date/time/place of the incident on which the grievance is based and a short description of why what has happened amounts to a grievance. The longer your grievance, the more involved and the longer the written story, the more ammunition management will have to initially pick the grievance apart. You will always have time at the grievance meeting (or meetings, depending on how many steps your grievance process may have) to explain in person to the management representatives the whose, why’s, where’s and what’s of your grievance. Remember, at the initial stages of the grievance procedure, we just want to get in the door that what is on the formal grievance actually makes it a violation of the contract.
Second, information and knowledge are always the key in both convincing management that the Union is right and, if you have to get that far, prevailing at arbitration. Always ask from the Employer information that may support your grievance. Always confirm a verbal information request, if you are able, an email or just a plain old regular note to the manager, labor relations person, etc. who you made the information request to. Remember, when you request information from the Employer, you must give it a “reasonable amount of time,” what is “reasonable” will depend upon what you ask for, how detailed the request is, and how many documents will be required to be provided to the Union, etc. Always be willing to discuss your information request with the Employer and to be flexible in terms of why you want the information for.
By following both tips, the Union Steward can better be able to both evaluate the grievance and help his/her Union successfully push the grievance up to and including arbitration.
— L. Levy