Filing a Grievance

  1. The Investigation:

    The first step in filing a grievance is to investigate to discover all of the facts surrounding the case. To fully investigate a case, you need to answer a few questions:

    Who was directly involved?, Who were the witnesses?
    When did the incident happen?, be as specific as possible (date, time, shift, etc.)
    Where did it happen?, be as specific as possible
    What happened? What were the circumstances? (Past practices are noted here)
    Why is this incidence a grievance? Identify the contract clauses, or past practice.

    You should determine if the issue at hand has been the subject of a grievance in the past. If so, the resolution of the prior grievance, whether settled, or failed to move to the next step, will have control.

    After a thorough investigation, you should be able to determine if the incident is a grievance, or if it should be be handled through some other process.

  2. Writing a Grievance

    When the grievance is written, it should be done is a form that will ultimately heard by an arbitrator. To be properly written, it must contain three things:

    The Facts:
    All of the relevant information that was uncovered during the investigation
    The Argument:
    How the facts violate the contract or past practice
    The Remedy:
    The steps necessary to remedy the violation

    When putting the argument into writing, be sure that all the relevant contract clauses that have been violated If a grievance goes to arbitration, issues not cited in the written argument, and clauses not listed in the written argument cannot be raised, or addressed. If you are relying on past practice, once you have cited the relevant clauses insert "and the practice there under". Note that past practice is only relevant is the contract is ambiguous.

    When writing out the requested remedy, management must be advised of what is wanted to remedy the violation. This most common remedy is that the grievant be made "whole". Which is restoration to the condition and status that existed prior to the violation.

  3. Presenting the Grievance

    Be Prepared! Know what you want to say, write out your points so that you have a reference to follow when presenting the grievance. Anticipate that arguments that management will make so that you can properly respond to them.

  4. Don't Forget Important Time Limits

    Adhere to the time limits in the grievance process. If management doesn't respond within the time limit, move to the next step. Failure to follow the time frames that have been established can make a grievance non-arbitrable.