As a steward you are not just a witness, but a legal representative with rights protected by law. It is your responsibility to represent members to the best of your ability. Maybe we can't always win, but we can always try.
Before filing a Grievance:
  • Review the Grievance Procedure Article in your contract to determine if you are within the time limits of filing. If not, contact your Business Agent for advice.
  • Check all appropriate Articles in the contract and list them in the "Articles Violated" section.
  • Make sure the remedy requested is clearly listed on the grievance form and is consistant with the violation.
  • The Six Grounds for a Grievance are:
  • Is this a violation of the Contract?
  • Is this a violation of the State, Municipal, or Federal Law?
  • Has management violated their rules, policies, or regulations?
  • Is this a violation of established past practice?
  • Is it a violation of management responsibilities?
  • Is it a violation of just cause for discipline and/or discharge?
  • In a discipline or discharge case, always review the seven tests of just cause:
  • Was the employee adequately warned of the consequences of his/her conduct?
  • Was the company's rule or order reasonably related to efficient and safe operations?
  • Did management investigate before administering discipline?
  • Was the investigation fair and objective?
  • Did the investigation produce substantial evidence of proof or guilt?
  • Were the rules, orders, and penalties applied evenhandedly and without discrimination?
  • Was the penalty reasonably related to the seriousness of the offense and the past record?
    If the answer to any one of the above questions is "no," there may be grounds to get the discharge set aside and the issue should be contained in the argument.
  • Concerning Equal Treatment - All employees should be judged by the same standards, and the rules should apply equally to all. This does not mean, however, that the same penalty must always be given for the same offense.
  • Rule of Reason - Even in the absence of a specific provision, a Contract protects employees against unjust discipline and permits a challenge to any company procedure that treatens to deprive employees of their rights.
  • Internal Consistency - The pattern of enforcement must be consistent, whether a company disciplines on a case-by-case basis or uses a rule book.
  • Personal Guilt - Even thought two employees are in the same act of misconduct, the same penalty need net be meted out to each. Such things as prior disciplinary records may be considered.
    Discrimination is a claim of a lot of employees. If an employee is discriminated against because of race, creed, sex, age, national origin, religion, union activities, disabilities, the use of agencies such as OSHA, or the use of FMLA, there may be a claim under the law. If an employee cannot claim a violation of these, it would most likely have to be claimed as a violation of the Contract of application of rules.
  • The employer should publicize their rules either by direct publication or by consistent enforcement.
  • The employer should apply disciplinary policies "seriously and without discrimination."
  • The employer should regard industrial discipline as corrective -- not punitive.
  • The employer should avoid arbitrary or hasty action when confronted with a situation.
  • The employer should evaluate each situation in the light of the employee's disciplinary record.
  • The employer should tailor the punishment to fit the crime.

    When confronted "cold" with a disciplinary issue, find out what the company is charging the employee with or what type of action they are investigating (this should be done with the member present and not independently). You have the right to ask to meet privately with the member to discuss the situation and question him/her. You can always call your Business Agent for assistance. Be sure to fill out a detailed Fact Sheet or report to send to your Business Agent concerning the grievance.
  • A Steward's job is to represent the member to the best of their ability. Always be a good listener first. A Member may approach you with a problem and not know whether their rights have actually been violated. Get the whole story before making a decision through the use of proper interview methods:

  • Listen - Let the member first tell their information without interruption.
  • Take Notes - Confirm the statements to make sure you understand the points they are telling you.
  • Ask any questions you can think of that are unanswered.
  • Explain what you will do next and/or how the process works.
  • Talk to witnesses, if any.
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