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Controlling the Grievance- Part 1
Controlling the Grievance - Part 2

First of 3 Part Series

Controlling the Grievance- Part 1
“The Beginning”

Every steward faces the problem of controlling his/her grievance through the grievance process. Rest assured that a Steward can, and should, maintain control of THEIR grievance throughout all the steps of the process. I am going to explain in detail how you can attain control, and keep Management off balance, while holding their feet to the fire.

What I hate to hear from any Steward is; “They aren’t giving me the time or information I requested. I’ve had to extend and extend. What am I supposed to do?” Wah, wah, wah.

I’m going to show you how to eliminate all this “woe is me” Steward anxiety. By using the tools, provided to you by the contract and the National level Step 4 decisions and pre-Arbs, you should not be whining anymore! You will learn to control management with proper execution of the Information Request, the Informal A meetings, and Formal A meetings.

Do you know you have the advantage in the Grievance Process? You do, and I’m about to tell you how to utilize your advantage, and put management to the disadvantage. Sounds fun, huh? Let’s move on….

When you first learn of a grievable situation, such as a carrier telling you he thinks there was an overtime violation, or if you see a violation of the contract, the first action you must do is the Information Request.

1. The Information Request

Here is a simple action that every Steward must do to begin the grievance process, however, this can also be one of the most important. Asking for information must have a purpose. You cannot go on a “fishing expedition”.

I will now write every NALC Steward’s mantra:

Document! Document! Document!

This mantra should be followed by every Steward, and the Steward must continually remind their fellow employees of the same thing. How many times has a carrier claimed harassment at your station? The first thing out of my mouth is did you document all the harassment? Times, dates, and who said what? Usually the answer is no. I tell them, “One incident of raising his voice by the supervisor, does not constitute harassment.” However, documented times of the supervisor doing this over and over to the one carrier, supported by times and dates written by the grievant, and best of all, witness statements by carriers around the grievant, will support a charge of harassment. So remember:

Document! Document! Document!

Repeat this over and over until it comes out of your pores! As a Steward, this is the most important part of your duties, to receive good documentation, and to provide good documentation to the case file.

If an overtime violation may have occurred, you must ask for all the information that would confirm, initially, if a violation occurred. The majority of grievances are Article 8 and Article 16 issues. Each are handled the same, however, completely different documents are asked for.

The main thing is the Request for Information itself. It should have the date submitted (time submitted is also good to have listed on the form, who the request is being submitted to, a detailed list of documents being asked for (specify by PS Form number if known) and dates of documents asked for (such as the “Employee Everything Report for all carriers for 8/2/09”.

The request should have a place where the Supervisor can initial or sign receipt of such a request, and also a place to date it. If they do not like to fill the date in, fill it out for them before they sign. If they refuse to sign or initial the form, do not get angry, just write the statement “Refused to sign” in the line where they are supposed to sign, or near it, over or under, the signing line (or in the Comments section shown below). Date the request and time, and hand him the carbon copy, if one is provided by your branch form, or make a copy on the copy machine, so he may have the COPY, not the original. Be sure you do not use an O-13 for the request. Why? Because I always tell them it is my form, my request, and it is not a Post Office form, it is a Union form and document, and I maintain control of the original. They can have the copy.

If the request is done on a PS Form 13 (Buckslip) then you are filling out a Postal Service form and it is THEIR form and the statement of control of YOUR form may not hold water. Make it YOUR form, even if it is written on a piece of tablet paper. It is YOUR form and you control it!

Below is language from a sample information request. This language is key to controlling the supervisor providing the information requested.

“I would like to begin this (circle one) investigation / Informal A meeting / Formal A meeting on ___________, 20___ at _______hour am / pm. However, if that is not possible, please enter the date and time I may begin on __________, at________ hour am / pm.

This request was presented to Supervisor_____________ on _______, 20___ at _______ hour am / pm.


Supervisor’s Name_____________Initials/signature___________Date____”

The language in bold type is important. You offer the supervisor a time you would like to receive the information. There is no reason why a TACS report cannot be given the same day. They only have to pull it up on the computer and hit print. How hard is that? However, “idiots don’t know they are idiots ‘till you show them” and this important language will help you control idiots, or supervisors…no difference.

By entering the date you would like to receive the information, and if they sign it, without filling out the optional time, then they have agreed to give you the information by the time YOU indicated on the request form.

The information request should include the estimated time you think it will take to investigate the grievance.

“A reasonable amount of time is requested to review, interview and discuss the problem. I anticipate it will require approximately______________ of time. Additional time may be requested.

It is necessary to interview the following: __________________________.”

Enter the time you reasonably think it will take to process the information. Do not try and ask for an unreasonable amount of time to take advantage of your position. This damages your credibility as a Steward and you must always try to conduct your job with credibility and integrity. You will find many supervisors who will allow you to do your job if you maintain credibility. If you appear to be wasting time or they see you are not doing what you asked time to do, they will feel taken advantage of and your credibility will go out the window. But, there are also Stoopidvisors, who will give you hard time no matter what. So keep your integrity and let them maintain their nickname of a body part!

If you asked for two hours and are done in one hour, do not just waste time. Let the supervisor know you are done ahead of schedule and return to work. This will let the supervisor know that you are not just burning their clock. If you have an additional grievance that you can work on, let the supervisor know that you worked on that grievance and you will not need all the time asked for that particular grievance you just started or completed (if requested in a another info request). Just because your supervisor lacks credibility, do not lower yourself to their level. It’s too nasty down there and I get it all over my shoes! Stay credible and do your job with integrity.

Applicable Step 4 Decision language is listed below for “reasonable time” to investigate grievances

M-00671 Step 4 October 20. 1976, NCS-2655
The determination regarding how much time is considered reasonable is dependent upon the issue involved and the amount of data required for investigation proposes.

M-00606 Step 4 August 29, 1975, NBS-5391
When a steward makes a specific problem known to management and requests permission to conduct an investigation in order to determine whether to file a grievance, a reasonable amount of time for this purpose shall not be unreasonably denied.

With this information now entered on your request, you have just begun asserting your Control of the Grievance.

2. Information Request
“The Follow Up”

Now, that you have submitted the request, got the signature, or indicated “Supv Refused to Sign” on the form, and left a copy of the form with the supervisor, you wait for the date and time you requested to receive your information, and approach the supervisor again, calmly… knowing that lesser animals scare easily when surprised!.

If the time you wanted in the request states 9:00 am, and if at 9:01 you have not received any information, they are in violation of the request, even if they did not sign it. You gave them the chance to sign and provided them a copy, they have been notified.

Once at his desk, ask if he has the information you requested. If he says no, immediately ask for an Informal A meeting for a violation of Steward’s Rights, Article 17.3 & 31.3 and the Section 8 of National Labor Relations Act. Submit a request, right then and there, for the meeting and time to fill out the paperwork, including time to fill out the complaint for violation of the NLRB.

You have just thrown the supervisor off balance. If he tells you he now will get you the information, still give him a copy of the Steward Violations Informal A meeting request, with the date and time you wish to meet. They have already violated the request, do not let him get away with it! He/she will do this continually until you put the hammer down. Idiots are creatures of habit.

9:00 am does not mean 9:01, 9:05 or any click past 9:00 am! He has had it in writing since you gave a copy to him. He cannot tell you he cannot tell time or lost track of it, because you know if a carrier comes back one click later than his call, the idiot that couldn’t’ tell time can now tell you, to the second, how late the carrier was, and the amount of unauthorized OT he’s costing the USPS! However, I always find it strange management doesn’t think their ignorance and thousands of grievances does not cost the USPS a dime. Of course, they blame it on the Union for filing too many grievances! How could I forget?!!….but I digress…

If the supervisor refuses to sign the Information Request again, note on the form again, “Supv Refused to Sign”, leave him the copy and let him know this helps your case for the NLRB complaint and Steward’s Rights Violations. I guarantee you he will immediately be talking to someone about you filing a Labor Charge against him, and will probably be told to quit messing around and get you the information, pronto! Even higher ups, know the line Supervisors of are the “front line of idiots “that they put in charge!

Now, as many have found out, the real idiots won’t call anyone and will continue to puff out their chest and proclaim they are the boss and you will do as they say.
And you will follow their instructions, however, if anything he instructs you to do violates the contract, file the grievance. Nothing shuts up a supervisor better than to advance the grievance to the Formal A level to let the Management Rep know the supervisor, with “Idiot” on his forehead and printed on his tie, is just full of himself with power, and empty in his head on contractual knowledge. A good management rep will settle the grievance quickly. However, we do know that some, if not most idiots get promoted, so some Managers are just idiots with better pay and titles!

At this point, they have already violated the information request and your rights as a Steward. Have the PS Form 8190 ready for the Steward Rights Violation, and have them sign the form as a resolve for that grievance. Have them sign they “will cease and desist violation of Steward’s Rights, Article 17.3 & 31.3”. This establishes that they have violated your rights, are aware of it, and will not do it again. That’s what a cease and desist indicates. It’s important to have this in writing first. It establishes a “foundation” to build further violations upon.

Be sure that anytime you file a Steward’s Rights Violation, you indicate somewhere in your contentions, that this grievance being filed is a “Companion Grievance to Br #--------.“ Also, indicate in the initial grievance that a companion grievance had been filed due to management not providing the requested documentation and for violating !7.3 and 31.3, in those contentions. The DRT should know when they get one case file, it references the other. This way they do not render a decision without that important information.

If the Steward Rights grievance was settled, by receiving the information, put that in your contentions along with the grievance PS Form 8190 and the resolve. This way the Formal A representative, and the DRT, will know the companion grievance was settled and will not be looking to hold the initial grievance waiting for the outcome of the other.

I have bargained in “good faith” with management on some issues, and have given them a few cease and desists on a repetitive issue. Especially if supervisors have changed and they are trying to do good, but are just incapable or incompetent (ya think?). After a few “good faith” efforts I move it up to the next level.

Providing “good faith” efforts is a plus in forwarding the file. You can claim that a cease and desist was violated and the Union, in “good faith”, kept trying to allow them to get it right, but were just incapable of this simple task. So now a grievance must be moved forward to the Formal A. All informal A settlements are non-precedent setting decisions and just settle that particular issue for the grievance. The Formal A settlement may state it is precedent setting, and a Steward should try and get that language agreed to by management. This only sets precedent for your particular station and not the installation, but that is what you are concerned about anyway. Sending the case file to the DRT, and you receive a favorable decision sets precedent for all the Installation. JCAM language is provided below:

15.2.b Informal A During the Informal Step A discussion the supervisor and the steward (unless the grievant represents him/herself) have the authority to resolve the grievance. Both parties must use the JCAM as their guide to the contract. A resolution at this informal stage does not establish a precedent.) (JCAM pg 15-3)

15.2.e Formal Step A Decision. The parties must make the Formal Step A decision and complete the Joint Step A Grievance Form on the day of the meeting, unless they agree to extend the time limit. Copies of the completed form must be sent to the steward and supervisor who failed to resolve the dispute at Informal Step A. Resolutions and withdrawals at Step A do not establish a precedent unless the parties specifically agree otherwise. If the grievance is resolved, copies of the resolution must be sent to the steward and supervisor who discussed the grievance at Informal Step A. (JCAM pg 15-6)

15.2.c Step B A Step B decision establishes precedent only in the installation from which the grievance arose. For this purpose, precedent means that the decision is relied upon in dealing with subsequent similar cases to avoid the repetition of disputes on similar issues that have been previously decided in that installation. (JCAM pg 15-8)

If the supervisor still has not given you the requested information, put in the resolve (steward rights violation) that the 14 time limit for filing will not begin until they provide you with the information. This does a couple of things. You now have placed control on the grievance time limits (if you don’t need the time, don’t use it, move it to the next level) and you have placed the supervisor on notice that no matter what his actions are, you will control the grievance, and management will lose any issue of timeliness. This also does not stress you out trying to get a grievance done when he provided you the information the day before it is due. You are maintaining control of the process by utilizing your rights under the contract.

But, I digress. Let’s get back to the follow up. If they provide the information requested, be sure that you had put the time you need to investigate on the form. Once signed, they have agreed to allow you to investigate the grievance at that time and date. Once that time has arrived, you do not need to ask permission to go clock over to Steward time and investigate the information. You have it in writing that you are allowed time, at this particular date and time. If Management then throws a tizzy saying you did not ask them for permission for Steward Time. Calmly present the idiot with the form showing he, in fact, did grant you the time, and it is in writing.

Usually, the idiot will claim “needs of the service” and dictates you will not be granted your Union time today. Now you present them again with a Stewards Rights violation and NLRB complaint. You use the written time granted on the information request to support your charge. That supervisor is also responsible to tell you when that time is rescheduled for, and you must mutually agree. If it is a bad time for you, say so. The decision for the Union time must mutually be agreed to!

Applicable Step 4 Decision language, which you should use in your grievance if you are not granted time to investigate your grievance:

M-00125 Step 4 November 13, 1978, NCC-12200
If management must delay an employee's request for a steward, management should inform the employee involved of the reasons for the delay and should also inform the employee of when time should be available.

M-00332 Step 4, April 5, 1973, NS-2777
It is the responsibility of the Union and the responsibility of Management to arrive at a mutual decision as to when the steward would be allowed, subject to business conditions, an opportunity to investigate and adjust

M-00127 Step 4 November 22, 1978, NCC-16045
If management must delay a steward from investigating or continuing to investigate a grievance, management should inform the steward involved of the reasons for the delay and should also inform the steward of when time should be available. Likewise, the steward has an obligation to request additional time and to state reasons why this additional time is needed.

Many supervisors are not allowing Stewards time to investigate grievances since they would be going into overtime. Many of these “puppet supervisors” only mimic what they are told by the higher level “idiots”. The following language would be used in countering their ignorance:

M-01143 APWU Step 4 November 20, 1979, A8-W-0280
As we mutually agreed, a steward's request to investigate a grievance should not be denied solely because the steward is in an overtime status.

M-01144 APWU Step 4 August 1, 1985, H1C-3F-C 43497
The issue in this grievance is whether management violated the National Agreement by denying the grievant additional time to process grievances when overtime was called. During our discussion, we mutually agreed to settle this case based upon the following understanding:
1. Requests for additional time to process grievances should be dealt with on an individual basis and shall not be unreasonably denied.

2. Management will not delay (sic) a union steward time to perform union duties based solely on the fact that the employee is in overtime status.

Once the supervisor has violated your Steward Rights, don’t just rely on your information request to completely win your case. Remember, my statement that “idiots don’t know they are idiots….? Then interview the idiot. Ask relevant questions, such as:

“Are you familiar with YOUR contract, specifically Articles 17 and 31?

Are you aware YOUR National Agreement with the NALC provides that information and time are to be provided to the Union when properly requested? And if you weren’t aware, you are now.

Are you aware you are violating the National Labor Relations Act, Section 8, by not providing me the information and/or time to investigate a possible grievance? And if you weren’t informed, you are now.

The Dispute Resolution Process provides any issue of dispute is to be resolved at the lowest level. By not providing me the time and/or information, are you aware you are not even allowing me to determine if a grievance exists? And if you are not informed, you are now.

Why wasn’t time and/or information provided, as requested and acknowledged, by Management on the information request? (Show them their signature or initials and date, or the “Refused to Sign” and date.)

When did you know that you would not be able to provide me the Union time you signed for on the information request?

When did you come to me, to inform me that Union time was not available for the time you signed for, so that we could mutually reschedule the time for my Union time? (M-00125, M-00332, M-00127)

When will this Union time asked for, be granted to me, to determine if a grievance exists?


When will I be granted time to investigate this grievance?

I have read back to you all your answers after each question I asked you. Are there any statements I recited back to you that are in error?

Then all the answers are correct?

Would you initial here that these are your answers? (See if they will sign, this will take away any doubt that this was not their answers)

Continued Right Column

If the supervisor balks at having to sit through an interview, file the additional grievance for refusal to answer germane questions to investigate the Steward’s Rights grievance. Another 17.3, 31.3 and Article 19 grievance should be filed. The applicable Step 4 is listed below:

M-00012 Step 4, October 25, 1977, NC-S-8463
It is anticipated that supervisors will respond to reasonable and germane questions during the investigation of a grievance.

Be sure to get them to sign a cease and desist on the new PS Form 8190, and that they understand that they will comply with interviews. Now, you are heading him off at every turn by contractually forcing him to comply. You are reigning in an out of control supervisor in by filing the correct grievances. You are Controlling the Grievance.

The supervisor, after the interview, may ask for a copy of the interview. This is him, trying to investigate your investigation. He knows what he said and signed it. You may give him a copy if you have a good relationship with them, or, as I have done, responded in such a manner listed below:

Smartass answer # 1 - “Submit an information request and I’ll get back to you.”

Smartass answer # 2 - “Why? It’s easy to remember the truth, isn’t it?”

These are smartass comebacks I’ve used, however, I do not condone using these remarks. I made sure I was 613-Steward Time when I did make those statements, and said # 2 jokingly. I meant number one, and do not supply any information of my investigation to any supervisor until the Informal A or Formal A meetings.

When on 613 time, you are on the same level as management. This doesn’t mean pay level, but if they get profane, or begins yelling at you, you may do the same back without fear of repercussions. He is not your supervisor at that point, he is your equal. Be sure that you are on 613 time anytime a heated discussion develops, if not, walk away. By not being on 613 time, he IS your supervisor and must watch what you say to Mr. Inflated Ego.

Also, if the Supervisor asks for copies of the references which you quoted in the interview, let him know:

Smartass answer # 1 - “I can only do that on Union time and I haven’t been authorized that yet.”

Smartass answer # 2 - “Its in YOUR contract, you should try reading it sometime.”

Smartass answer # 3 - “Its in YOUR contract. I hear they are offering reading classes in Pre-K now.”

Again, don’t get yourself in trouble. I do not condone the language I’ve used, but threw them in here for some levity on the subject. I hope some of them made you smile!

3. Information Request
“The Right Requests are Crucial”

You’ve been made aware of a possible grievance situation. I say “possible” because you must investigate first to determine if a grievance exists. To determine this, the right documents must be requested to prove a grievance exists.

A. The Grievant Statement

One thing that must be done immediately, is to obtain a statement from the grievant. You do not know how many grievances are sent to the Step B office, which never includes any statement by the grievant. This is important to the case file.

The grievant has a chance to explain their version of events and the how, who, what, when, or where the events took place. If clarification is needed, the Steward can conduct an interview with the grievant to get the additional or clarified reasons, or the grievant can be asked to write additional statements where necessary.

I like to interview the grievant so I can get specific information to help the case. Sometimes a grievant can be their own worst enemy because they are talking from emotion, instead of facts and the contract. By interviewing them, I can direct them to specific issues and avoid all the “color” they want to put in their language if they were to write them down. This also eliminates the “personal” aspect from the information.

If the grievant can’t stand the supervisor, or is very angry for the way he was treated, many grievants try to convey this in their statement, which just shows there is animus towards the supervisor and may hurt their own case. Just get the facts, take the “personal” issues out of the process. This will show you and the grievant are concerned about the issue, not in retribution.

B. “Finding out about…”

Management likes to delay you talking to the grievant. There is always too much mail, too many sick calls, too many open routes, yada, yada, yada. As a Steward you must enforce your time to meet with a grievant, or the request of the grievant to meet with you.

Let the workforce know, if a carrier notifies Management they want to see you, the carrier should let you know, This way you can monitor the grievant is seeing you in a timely manner. Too many times I have met with the grievant and he lets me know that he requested the time the week prior and is just now being allowed the time to talk to me. I include the language from the Charter’s Letter explaining that time to talk to the grievant, or the Steward, should be done without delay, and within 2 hrs, 95% of the time. Let me say this again. You should be speaking with the grievant immediately, or within 2 hrs of the request, 95% of the time! I’m sure all of you do that right? Didn’t think so.

Additionally, it states the delay should not extend beyond the tour of duty in which the request is made. So you should be speaking to the grievant, NO LATER than the end of the work day! I used this to stop the delay tactics management liked to throw as roadblocks in my grievances.

M-00458 Regional Letter (Charters) March 10, 1977
In most cases, the grievant and steward should be able to discuss the grievance without delay but 95 percent of the time with no more than a two-hour delay. While circumstances will sometimes necessitate a delay of more than two hours, normally the delay should not extend beyond the tour of duty in which the request is made. This determination will be based on the availability of the parties involved and service

Management likes to relent sometimes, but then says “You only have 5 minutes.”
Well, ain’t that just dandy?! The Step 4 decision below states they cannot predetermine what my reasonable time is. The more complicated the issue, the more time I will need.

M-00303 Step 4 May 9, 1985, H1C-3W-C 44345
Employees should be permitted, under normal circumstances, to have a reasonable amount of time to consult with their steward. Reasonable time cannot be measured by a predetermined factor.

Again, credibility becomes important here. If you request to see a grievant for an Article 8 issue and take an hour to talk to him, is that reasonable? The initial discussion time should have what violation the grievant believes happened, the time for him to write his statement, time for you to clarify any major issue, and time to write the information request. This is the initial phase of determining if a grievance exists.

A simple initial Article 8 discussion may go like this:

“Hey, I’m an ODL, and I think they worked a non-ODL yesterday overtime and I was available. I went home in 8 hrs..”

“OK, can you write me a statement explaining what happened, and who you saw and when, so I can ask for the clock ring report. Just write down the facts of what happened. I’ll start filling out my information request now, while you write the statement.”

“Here’s my statement…Does is sound OK?”

Yeah, sounds good…but you need to print your name, sign it, and date it. That’s important…Great...I’ll get back to you as soon as I find out what happened.”

The point of this is, the initial discussion should be brief. You put on your information request the time needed to interview the grievant. This is the time where you can sit with the grievant and get into detail about the issue. The initial discussion should just establish what the problem is. Once told to you, then make the proper request to get the basic facts for determining if a grievance exists. Once it is established, then you can ask for more detailed information in another request.

On the initial request , I like to put “Possible violation of Article 8”. Because I really don’t know if a violation exists. I have investigated grievances where after the initial information I received, established that no violation existed.

It’s the duty of the Steward to always inform the grievant of what they are doing with THEIR grievance. If the complaint had no merit, tell them you found no violation and WHY! Always explain your actions and try to educate them about the contract concerning their issue.

I have given grievants copies of the JCAM language or LMOU when it is something they don’t understand, or as many of them do, read a small bit of the contract, interpret it their way, and think that little bit supports their complaint. By educating them, they will know the next time if there really is an issue they need to see you about.

All statements from the grievant needs to be signed and dated. Many files go to the DRT and have unsigned and undated statements in the file. If they are typed, technically, anyone could have typed it. This argument should be used against management as well. Any unsigned and undated statement should be challenged in the file. A typed statement is great for the file, but a handwritten one really shows the grievant took the time to write down his issues. Many case files include both, especially if the handwritten statement is difficult to read.

The Article 8 example above would probably ask for a schedule, the two carrier’s clock rings and a station OT Alert Report. This is to see if anyone else may have been worked improperly when ODLs were available. This would be the bare bones to determine if a violation occurred by an in house Steward.

Let me say the OT Alert Report will show you only a basic idea of what YOU may know what is going on in your station. The DRT does not like to see OT Alert Reports in a case file. They prove nothing, zip, nada, to the Step B team. They show BT and ET and nothing in between. Take an OT Alert Report to another Steward and ask him, what violations can you tell me happened here. Even provide him with the ODL list. He will not be able to tell you anything. That is what the DRT will see if forwarded to Step B, no proof, and no evidence that a violation exists.

The Employee Everything Report (EER) is needed to show off assignment OT and ODL availability. Any Article 8 should have these reports in the case file. This report proves everything, and even if the Steward is inexperienced and does not do the proper math, the DRT can figure it out by the EER report. Remember, no OT Alert Reports to the B team, only EER reports.

C. Discipline Cases

In a discipline case, the first request should be for “any and all files used by Management in consideration of issuing the discipline”. And this should be done as promptly as possible, after the discipline was issued to the grievant.

The reason specifically for this is to freeze management attempts to “add” to the file and to “pile on the grievant”. One favorite tactic by Management is issuing an Emergency Placement 16.7, or Removal, on a specific date, and then they include the results of an OIG investigation they received after the date they issued the discipline. How was it considered when did not have it when the discipline was issued? Curious isn’t it. They claim to have clairvoyance and they are the Great Carnac! They issued discipline for documents they haven’t seen yet! That’s why you have to show them they are idiots! Are you starting to see a pattern here…?

If there is anything specific you need to request, put it in writing on the information request. The DRT will look to see if a document was requested on the information request if an argument can be made for it. If the Union did not request it, then the argument fails, and/or the NALC DRT representative cannot bring up the argument that management failed to provide it, or argue the contents of a document the Union failed to request.

All discipline must be issued for “just cause”. Read Article 16 in the JCAM and the tests for just cause are listed there. Once you receive information from management for the grievant in a discipline case, you must review, in detail, the discipline letter and the documents considered for it. I can tell you more than not, management will falter in one or more tests of just cause. It is up to you to catch all that you can at your level. Tear apart the Letter of Discipline, bit by bit, to catch the errors management may make.

If you are not also the Formal A representative, then fresh eyes will be able to look over the case file and help bolster the case. If it goes to the DRT, then the NALC Step B team member should find any loose ends and help to get you a favorable decision, if it is warranted. Sometimes, you know as well as I, that discipline may be justified, and if management crosses their T’s and dots their I’s, then the discipline may well stick. Do your job to find the loopholes they missed.

D. Beginning your Defense

Remember a cardinal rule for a Steward. You are not the JUDGE. You do not defend one carrier better than another. If you believe the carrier is guilty and you are not going to put forth the effort to defend him, go be a 204b. A Steward is pledged to uphold the contract. YOU do not decide who is guilty and who is not. You defend them the best of your ability.

We all have carriers who seem to get in trouble constantly, and many of them may well have acted improperly, however, that is management’s burden to prove. As a Steward you must defend all carriers, even SCABS.

Let me go off subject here for a moment. SCABS. We all do not like them in our office and they are parasites, as far as I am concerned, feeding off our Union, while not paying their share. However, you must defend them, or face possible legal action against you and your Branch. I have seen case files at the DRT level where Stewards actually asked for monetary remedy for an Article 8 issue and did not list carriers because they were SCABS. You can’t do this! You are now discriminating and risking yourself and your Branch to legal action.

On the bright side of this issue, SCABS in my area have actually joined the Union, once they were in a big discipline bind, and the Steward did a good job getting the discipline reduced or rescinded. Some can see the light, others fit right in with the idiots! Anyway, YOU cannot risk legal action by discriminating. Defend everyone. How good would it look to have an article written about you and your Branch, in the local paper, because of a lawsuit of discrimination against a non-Union employee?

Holy mackerel, who thought I could write 15 pages just talking about the information request. But, I’ve never been known to be short winded either! Well, I hope this helps you in some of the basics. I can’t cover every example, as no matter what I cover, you will find a situation that arises that will be unique to you, the grievant, or your area. Learn the basics, enforce YOUR rights as a Steward, using the tools National has negotiated for you. The tools are there. Great Stewards utilize all these tools to their advantage. I hope to be able combine these tools and become a Great Steward. Great Stewards aren’t born, it takes a lot of hard work, reading, and a lot passion to let the idiots know they are idiots! Once you know the contract, and its surrounding periphery (Step 4’s, Arbitrations, etc) you will never feel intimidated or bullied again, and you can start defending your co-workers like you were meant to!

I feel that any knowledge must be shared, to be educating. Everyone can learn from everyone else. If knowledge is kept to oneself, then the knowledge is “selfish” and is not EDUCATION. Educating others by the use of your knowledge empowers others to use what you have learned. I hope by sharing some of my knowledge, shared to me by others before me, and the pitfalls that I went through, will help you to not make the same mistakes I did. Perhaps some of my experiences can help make you to become a stronger and more knowledgeable Steward!

Keep Fighting the Good Fight!

Written by Denny Belden

Former Steward
Former Branch President
Back-up Step B Member

Read > Part 2- Controlling the Grievance-The Informal A Meeting

Look for upcoming Articles:

Part 3-Controlling the Grievance-The Formal A Meeting

Back to: The Belden Factor Article Selection | Controlling the Grievance Part 2


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