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If I Sign It…Am I Saying I’m Guilty?
This is asked of the Shop Steward once, if not a
hundred times…”If I sign the Letter of Warning,
doesn’t that mean I am saying I’m Guilty?” One
answer, every time, NO! ABSOLUTELY NOT!
When you sign any discipline letter you are just
signing that you received it at the time and
date you signed for it. It does not mean you
agree to anything within the letter or any of
the allegations! And this is something you need
to do on every Letter of Discipline, sign, date
it, and put the time on it. This is especially
true when it comes to 16.7 Emergency Suspension
The time the Letter of Emergency Suspension was
issued, may be critical on what may be entered
into the file in your defense. If you signed the
letter at 11:00 am, and a document that was
added to the file shows a fax transmission at
1:00 pm that day, it could not have been used in
consideration prior to your suspension. The
documented time could be extremely important on
disputing what management alleges they used in
consideration to issue the Emergency Suspension.
Always read the Letter and then sign, date, and
time the letter. Management still has the
“burden of proof” on any discipline case and
must prove what postal regulation or rule you
have allegedly violated.
The date that you sign the letter begins the
14-day filing limit for the Union to file a
greivance. Day one begins the day after the date
you signed the letter. If you signed the Letter
on the 10th, then day one is the 11th, and the
14th, and last day to file is the 24th.
You must understand that management has no
obligation to tell the Union it is issuing a
Letter of Discipline to you. At the end of each
Letter will be a paragraph that is highly
important and reads:
“You have the right to file a grievance under
the Grievance/Arbitration procedures set forth
in Art. 15 of the National Agreement within 14
days of your receipt of this letter.”
It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to notify the Union of
your receipt of Discipline. It is not your
Steward’s, the Branch’s, or Management’s
responsibility to begin the grievance process!
It is YOURS! Your Union cannot initiate a
grievance if it does not know one exists! Tell
your steward, or if you do not have one, ask to
call the Union Hall immediately!
Management should give you time immediately to
talk to your Steward. In busy situations, they
may wait up to 2 hrs, to allow you to talk to
your Union Rep. If for some reason, such as the
Steward has already left for the street, then
Mgmt should allow you time upon your return to
the office. At no time should it be longer than
first thing the next morning! File a grievance
if they are not allowing time for you to meet
with the steward immediately, when requested,
and do not have justification for delaying you.
They must give you the reason WHY you cannot
meet now, and WHEN (what time, not what day) you
may meet with the Steward.
For each day a supervisor delays you talking
with your Union representative, it delays the
Steward from another day of investigation of
your grievance. Do not expect to tell the
Steward on the 14th day that you wish to file a
grievance, and have them jump for joy! The job
of investigation of grievances is hard enough
without being placed behind the 8-ball to start
with. Remember, that the less time a Steward has
to investigate your grievance, the less time he
has to go into depth on your grievance and give
you the best possible chance for a favorable
Many carriers believe if they refuse to sign for the discipline letter, it
was never issued. WRONG! Carriers mistakenly refuse to sign and then
forget about the letter. This causes many letters of discipline to go past
the 14-day limit, and then the grievance is untimely. The Letter of
Warning that could have possibly been rescinded, or reduced, is now in
your file for 2 yrs. ALL DISCIPLINE IS FOR 2 YRS UNLESS GRIEVED! DON’T LET
THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!
Some carriers have forgotten all about a LOW until they get disciplined
later down the line for the same issue. Now, all of a sudden they are
staring at a 7-Day Suspension! Being progressive, means that another
discipline issued for the same issue already on the books, goes to the
next level. Now, this LOW has extreme importance in the application of
progressive discipline. Instead of grieving the LOW and possibly having it
initially rescinded, or reduced to a discussion, and possibly just having
to face a new LOW, the carrier is fighting a 7-day suspension! Always take
discipline VERY SERIOUSLY, and grieve every letter of discipline.
There are times when the charges against the grievant may be true, such as
failure to deliver express on time. Especially when the carrier admits
that he cased the Express or simply forgot about it. We are not now
disputing whether the carrier did it or not, but are disputing the length
of the LOW. Remember, if you do not grieve it, then it is automatically in
your file for 2 yrs.
Also, by signing the Letter of Discipline and keeping a copy of it, you
have “frozen” that letter. When you do not sign a letter, and allow mgmt
to write down “refused to sign”, and then they realize they made a vital
mistake in the letter, they can go back and correct it, and re-write
“refused to sign” again. They cannot forge your signature. Having that
copy in your hands could stop them from changing the letter.
So remember, if you receive a Letter of Discipline, sign it, date it, and
put down the time you received it. And then keep a copy, and report it to
your Union Rep immediately!
You are not admitting guilt by signing the Letter and may be protecting
yourself by documenting it!
BE INFORMED! BE PROFESSIONAL! BE UNION!
Aka-VetCarrier Orlando, FL - NALC Branch 1091
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