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So, What Have You Done for Me Lately?

Ever hear this from the carrier who never wants to hear about the Union, except when he feels his “deals” have been violated? Or the carrier who doesn’t want to file a grievance if he doesn’t think he’ll get anything out of it?

This is frustrating for the steward, however, the steward need not have permission to file a grievance once he knows the contract may have been violated. The filing of a grievance is about how it affects the “big picture”. Many carriers only think of themselves and how the grievance affects them, as opposed to how it affects the office they’re in, or even installation wide.

I am always amazed that so many carriers WILL NOT file grievances by going to their stewards and telling them of the violations. Too many carriers are afraid of retaliation by the supervisors, yet they fail to see that they are being violated already! If you stay quiet, you play right into mgmt hands! They keep after you because you won’t stand up for your rights. As soon as you do, then move to the next carrier. And this is where it bothers me!

If carriers would stand up for themselves each time, then mgmt would not have another carrier to go to! But there is always the carrier who thinks he can fly under the radar and doesn’t want to stir anything up. Mgmt will always move to the weakest and to the one who will not stand up for themselves. It is a sad commentary when they can pick off one carrier at a time, with no one rallying to their defense because he/she is too afraid to speak up. Not only should you speak up, it should be LOUD and CLEAR, that you are not going to take it anymore and you want your shop steward! I don’t mean to shout or scream, but just to make it very clear that this ends now!

The more you prove you know your rights, the more they cannot pull the wool over your eyes! The more apt they will be to move down the line and leave you alone. Does this mean that they won’t first challenge you and fire back at you? Of course not, their egos won’t let them back down immediately, only by constantly asking for the steward, or questioning every rule they cite (“Exactly where can I find that rule? What manual is that in?) will you show them you are a carrier with backbone. That reminds me of the Gary Larson cartoon of the Boneless Chicken Ranch. All the chickens are just blobs because they have no bones! Don’t be like that and cower from management! Assert your rights as a carrier and learn them. You cannot do your job properly and know what your rights are unless you read what you are supposed to do as a carrier, and that is all in the M-41 Carrier Duties and Responsibilities Handbook, at the back of your route book.

Once you learn to stand up for yourself once, it becomes easier and easier. Of course if you like being abused by management, keep your head down, and say nothing. I hope no one reading this wants management to get away with their abuse and will take the time to at least read about how you are supposed to do your job, then you will begin your journey into being a carrier who knows their rights and will stand up for themselves.

Why will filing a grievance help you and others out? For one thing, if your grievance goes to the B team and the decision comes back in your favor, you have set a precedent over the entire installation. This could be only one station or many, many, others. This could be the very case that will stop other supervisors from harassing carriers, or to make them pay for their mistakes.


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Filing on the local level shows that you are willing to stand up for what is right. Many carriers file on Article 8, for overtime and improper scheduling. Even though scheduling is a simple operation, mgmt continually screws it up. Making them pay is not very hard as the clock rings and schedule usually show the violation right away. By filing, this also makes management spend time with the steward on filing these grievances and takes time away from their mgmt duties.

One of our stations has recently one some big awards on Art. 8. Some of the days have amounted to close to $3000 a day in penalties to management, yet the manager (acting OIC) keeps right on violating Art. 8 consistently! This shows you the level of incompetence in the manager level in our area! They take a mgr from a very small station and send him to a very large station and he started dictating right away as an OIC. He caused a huge uproar and huge payouts! You think mgmt would see the problems they cause, but their egos surpass even their incompetence!

Stand up for your rights as a carrier! The contract, which has been fought for and negotiated and arbitrated, is your guide. The steward will be sure that the contract is defended and followed, but it is up to you to be sure to inform him/her when you feel you have been aggrieved. Why not start today?

Be Informed! Be Professional! Be Union!

Denny Belden Aka: VetCarrier

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