GO >  PEN HOME | Forums | SiteMap | On The Job Injury | Resource Gateway | Member Central | Mutual Transfers | Change Your Address  | Contact Us | Search


Back to: The Belden Factor Article Selection | PEN Home

Controlling the Grievance- Part 2
Back to Part One of Controlling The Grievance

Part 2 of 3 Part Series

Controlling the Grievance- Part 2

The Informal A Meeting

Now that you learned what to do with the information request, let’s move on to the Informal A meeting.

The National Agreement states you must meet with your immediate supervisor within 14 days of the violation, or when the Union first learns of the violation.

15.2(a) Any employee who feels aggrieved must discuss the grievance with the employee’s immediate supervisor within fourteen (14) days of the date on which the employee or the Union first learned or may reasonably have been expected to have learned of its cause. The date of this discussion is the Informal Step A filing date. The employee, if he or she so desires, may be accompanied and represented by the employee’s steward or a Union representative. During the meeting the parties are encouraged to jointly review all relevant documents to facilitate resolution of the dispute. The Union also may initiate a grievance at Informal Step A within 14 days of the date the Union first became aware of (or reasonably should have become aware of) the facts giving rise to the grievance. In such case the participation of an individual grievant is not required. An Informal Step A Union grievance may involve a complaint affecting more than one employee in the office. (JCAM pg 15-2)

Don’t rely on the “reasonably have been expected to learn” language in Article 15. If a carrier receives a Letter of Warning (LOW), and they do not tell you until 15 days after it has been issued, you probably will not win the timeliness issue. Others will be based on a case-by-case issue when it exceeds 14 days.


It is the grievant’s fault they did not notify you in a timely manner for the LOW, however, to protect your position and the Union, always file the grievance anyway. Argue the case and let the B team make a decision on the facts of the case, and the timeliness issue. Who knows? You may find a crack in the argument and win the decision.

Either way, file the grievance and get a decision on the case, whether it is untimely, or it is decided on its merits. Represent the grievant either way. You don’t want to be accused of not filing the grievance, file it anyway.

The language underlined at the end of the National Agreement paragraph above relates to a Class Action grievance. A grievant is not required in a Class Action, as it involves two or more grievants. The Union can file these grievances, at will, when appropriate. An Article 8 violation is usually a Class Action since it usually would involve a non-ODL(s) and an ODL(s). The remedy would apply to two or more carriers. The language for this is found on page 15-2 of the JCAM:

  • Should the grievance affect more than one employee in the office, the union may initiate a class grievance on behalf of all affected employees.

One thing a Steward should always be cognizant about…and that is you are not the judge on whether you represent someone who has a legitimate grievance. Your job is to represent that grievant to the best of your ability by the use of the National Agreement.

Once you begin to judge whether you want to defend someone or not, for whatever reason, you are no better than management trying to discipline the carrier. Do not lower yourself to management’s level. You were not elected or appointed as a judge! You are a Steward for the NALC. Uphold your oath and represent your membership!

Now let’s get back to the issue…the Informal A meeting with the idiot in the tie. By now you should have received all your information and reviewed it. You should have reviewed the case with the grievant prior to the day of the meeting, or at least immediately prior to the meeting.

Pre-Meeting with the Grievant

You should talk with the grievant prior to the meeting. This should only take a few minutes.

This is not to be a marathon session, just a review of what you are going to say, what they are to say, if anything, and to make sure the grievant does not stick his foot in his mouth with any antics. Especially when management’s makes their response or accusations.

The grievant should be informed of everything, including what the violation is, and what will be argued. They should feel at ease about your handling of their grievance. Remember, it is the carrier’s grievance at the Informal A stage. The Article 15.2 language states that the Steward may accompany and represent the employee into the meeting.

When management does not agree to allow the grievant in the Informal A, simply show him the JCAM language that says the grievance is the employee’s and you are there at the request of the grievant.

Always be sure the grievant accompanies you into the meeting. It costs management time to have the steward and the grievant in the meeting, and off the workroom floor. If they see that each time they violate the contract, it will cost them more and more time, they may change their actions on the floor. Especially now more than ever, the postal service needs to save money.

I know these are high expectations I place on management, but perhaps they’ll have a moment of lucidity every now and then!

While I talk of costs and saving money, by no means is that a reason NOT to file a grievance. If management is worried about saving the postal service, they should not violate the contract.

My opinion has always been that grievances are the best VOE survey. The less grievances you have, the better the working conditions, the more, the worse the working environment. I have never filled out the VOE survey for management, and take them home to shred them. You can read more on my opinion of the VOE surveys at “The Belden Factor.” But, I digress…

The Steward should always attempt to control the grievant in any meeting. I use the word “attempt” here, as sometimes it is impossible to do. If you know the grievant will be their own worst enemy, you must make sure they do not dig a deeper hole by opening their mouth when they should not do so. The steward should take the lead and do the talking and discuss the grievance with the management Informal A supervisor.

Many disciplinary cases can get heated if the grievant is allowed free rein in arguing with the supervisor who issued the discipline. If you know the grievant is a hot head, let him know you will not tolerate an argument or confrontation with the supervisor. You should be ready to pull him out of the meeting to caucus with him and read them the riot act, if need be. If they cannot control themselves, you should suggest to them that you do the grievance meeting alone. Many will agree to the suggestion rather than shoot themselves in the foot.

Make Them Meet…

The meeting should start with a written request to meet with the management Informal A rep within the 14-day time limit. If an extension is needed be sure it is in writing and everyone involved, including the grievant, knows of the extension and the new meeting date. It is imperative that this is in writing. Once management signs an extension, you have no further obligation to remind management of the meeting time.

Some stoopidvisors argue that they weren’t reminded of the meeting time by the Union in their contentions. Once they sign the extension they have a reminder, in writing, in their hands, they can refer to every day and hour, if need be. You have NO obligation to remind them of the extended meeting time.

If there is a good relationship with your supervisor, and you believe a quick favorable resolution may be rendered, you are not prohibited to remind a supervisor of the closing date. If they do not meet within the time and date noted on the extension of time limits, then you should properly forward the case to the next level and to the Formal A representative.

Remember…every extension is a MUTUAL extension. Keep things timely…do not agree to extend the grievances! Management cannot extend any grievance unilaterally. YOU must agree to it!

This is where you can literally exert control of your grievance. YOU determine when the grievance will be heard. If you do NOT agree to an extension, management must meet within 14 days…period. You have taken control of when they must meet with you. If they do not, you move the grievance up to the next level and they forfeit their right to the meeting.

Verbal Extensions…NO, NO, NO!

Even if you have an agreement with your local management about verbal extensions, an immediate change in management can make all your grievances untimely. They may not recognize the verbal agreement you have had with prior management.

This has happened before, and the best insurance is a written extension listing the grievance number, from what date the extension is from, and the date the extension is to. You are just asking for trouble with verbal agreements. They are not evidence you can put into a case file. If management decides to go back on their word, the verbal agreement will only be a contention. They will claim they never did a verbal extension and lie. Of course, they have never done that, have they!

Make sure all signatures are on the extension and it is advisable to have the names printed underneath. Some signatures are difficult to read and reference to the grievance at a later date, by an officer or another steward, will not be able to decipher who the signature belongs to.

Now you have requested the Informal A meeting and the meeting date has arrived. After reviewing the information you’ve requested and received, you should know if there is a violation or not. You must decide if this is a battle you want to pick to fight with management.

An overtime grievance of .08 clicks or .17 clicks may not be a grievance to put all your resources into, and perhaps the “rule of reason” applies in this case. So if the documentation shows the grievance is not valid, move on with the next grievance. Even if the grievance is valid, the clicks are “de minimis” (small, inconsequential) and may probably be dismissed by the B team.

The Meeting

Hopefully, the Informal A meeting is held in an office or private setting. This can help you gather your thoughts and contentions about the grievance. Whatever your argument may be, express them as briefly and concisely as you can. Use the minimum documents to prove your case to the management Informal A rep. But, be sure there is enough there to prove what you are contending.

Ex: If you contend there was a violation of Article 8 for a non-ODL being forced to work OT and an ODL was available; you should have the TACS Employee Everything Reports for both carriers. Be able to show the ODL carrier was available to carry the non-ODL OT, FROM HIS RETURN TO OFFICE, NOT HIS ET time (he was available to carry a pivot as soon as he returned, not when he clocked out). This would be the minimum to show the Informal A rep to prove your case.

Usually, but not always, they will deny the grievance. They are usually the culprit who violated the contract, or issued the discipline, and the reason there is a grievance being filed in the first place. They may ask for copies of the documentation you used in your argument. They are entitled to what you used. This is why I say use the minimum documents to prove your case.

Now that is not saying that is what you would send up to the Formal A rep, if the grievance is denied. There should always be a grievant statement, the documents to prove your contentions, and any statements or interviews you’ve conducted.

If you know of any precedent setting Step B decisions for your installation, they should also be included. Do not…I repeat…do not just include only the front page of the Step B decision in your file. Many Stewards do this, figuring the Step B team has the decisions in their office, they can look it up and you are not killing trees.

The problem with this action is many times cases are sent to outside Step B teams when the local team has an overload of cases. So the files are sent to another B team. It could be across the country.

Now the outside team has a case where only the front page of the precedent setting decision is included from that home district. The decision appears to be similar, however, the full decision would explain what was included in the file and how and why the Step B team arrived at the decision they did.

I am located in Central Florida and have done cases from as far away as California. So each case file should be able to stand alone with the documents in the case file.

Without the explanation portion the Step B team cannot determine if the case is the same. Many cases are not, and the list of documents listed in the decision might include something that is not in the instant case at hand. Include the whole decision. That may be what saves your case.

Do not waste your time looking for arbitrations at the Informal A level. This costs you a lot of time and many Informal A reps are too new or inexperienced to be including arbitrations.

Usually, at the Informal A level, the documents you use at the Informal A meeting are just the copies of what you requested from management. A smart supervisor would have made copies for themselves, and review them ahead of time to know what your arguments may be. However, how many times have you met a supervisor that was smart enough to do that?

So, if requested, give the management Informal A copies of the documentation you used. Be sure to ask him, “You mean copies of the same documents you gave me?” “Oh, did you forget your copies…? Did the copier break down after making my set of documents…?” I always like to make sure they know I think they are an idiot!

I do not like to have any written contentions at the Informal A meeting. I will have written them down for my use, then do the meeting verbally. This way they have no written contentions to base their arguments against. If they did not take their own notes during the meeting, then that is their problem, not mine. I am sure their Formal A rep likes to be surprised at the Formal A meeting having no idea what it is about. Remember, what I said about them being an idiot…?

Personally, I do not write my Informal A notes until after the Informal A meeting, so if documents are asked for, my notes are not included. If I do write notes I scribble them so only I can decipher them, or just bullet points that I can expound on later. A copy in their file does not help them. I later type them out for me, and for anyone else who may need to read it.

I may also interview the grievant after the meeting, and add that interview to the case file. I may also ask them to write an additional statement for the grievance, especially if I need corroboration on what the supervisor said in the Informal A meeting. I have them write a statement to verify what we both heard.

This, of course, is all after the meeting, so the information is not in the case file at the time the management Informal A representative requested it. So, technically, I provided them with what I used and had…however, now I have additional information for the Formal A representative to help them with the grievance.

Learn to Listen…

Be sure the grievant is briefed to listen to what supervisor is saying. First, this is to make them a witness to any verbal blunders management may make. Idiots usually do mess up…be sure it is only management that does this though!

Secondly, it will keep them from being defensive and trying to interject any argument they may want to say. When they are trying to be defensive they are not listening, they are thinking about what they want to say to defend themselves. Make them listen.

Many times a supervisor will make a verbal mistake that will help decide the case. Such as; “I don’t think this discipline is really warranted, but my manager said I had to issue it.” Or they may say; “I can’t really make this decision, my manager said to send it up.”

They have just expressed they don’t have the authority to make the decision at their level and that is a procedural defect and is fatal to their defense. This is where your statement and the corroborating statement from the grievant is crucial.

Learning to listen at the meeting is just as important as your arguments.

The Decision…to Sustain or Deny

The management Informal A supervisor must have the authority to settle the grievance at their level. If the supervisor hearing the grievance at the informal level is a 204B, they have the authority to make the decision, but most aren’t given that authority by the manager.

If they do not make any verbal blunders during the meeting, ask them, point blank, “Do you have the authority to settle this grievance today, right now?”

You would be surprised at how many 204B’s will tell you that they do not have the authority. Most are too scared to make a decision, and many are told not to make a decision. Only a small percentage are actually coached to say they do, but know they do not have the authority to settle the grievance. If there is any doubt from you, ask the question. The JCAM clarifies this issue:

JCAM pg 15-3: During the Informal Step A discussion the supervisor and the steward (unless the grievant represents him/herself) have the authority to resolve the grievance.

So where is your control in this Informal A procedure? You control management by requesting the meeting within the 14-day limit…and here is the kicker…even if you do not have the information requested!!

Here is the one place you must establish control with management. Many times they purposely delay your information, hoping you will screw up and miss an extension, and thus, your grievance is untimely, and invalid. Or they know there is a violation, but are trying to delay a filing of the grievance, because they may have already had too many going up to Formal A. By making them meet within the time limits, even without the information, YOU establish the time you will meet and now you put the pressure on management.

Failure to Provide Requested Information

First, by requesting the meeting, you and the grievant are taken off the floor for the meeting. The supervisor is dumbfounded wondering what is going on with a meeting. His usual look for the day…

Secondly, once you sit down for the meeting, simply state to the stoopidvisor, “You have not given me the information yet, which I requested for this grievance…we will sit here while you retrieve the information and let us review it. We can talk after we review the information, to see if there is a violation, and how to resolve it.”

Of course, management will probably laugh and tell you they are not going to do so, and get back to work. Immediately, slap another PS Form 8190 down in front of him and tell him to sign, that you just met for the Informal A meeting for the violations of Steward’s Rights, and is an additional, and separate Article 17.3 and 31.3 grievance. You let him know you will also file an Unfair Labor Practice under Section 8(5), to the National Labor Relations Board for violations for failure to provide requested information in a grievance.

JCAM pg 17-3: The steward, chief steward or other Union representative properly certified in accordance with Section 2 above may request and shall obtain access through the appropriate supervisor to review the documents, files and other records necessary for processing a grievance or determining if a grievance exists and shall have the right to interview the aggrieved employee(s), supervisors and witnesses during working hours. Such requests shall not be unreasonably denied.

JCAM pg 31-2: Information. Article 31.3 provides that the Postal Service will make available to the union all relevant information necessary for collective bargaining or the enforcement, administration or interpretation of the Agreement, including information necessary to determine whether to file or to continue the processing of a grievance. It also recognizes the union’s legal right to employer information under the National Labor Relations Act.

UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICES : Sec. 8. [§ 158.] (a) [Unfair labor practices by employer] It shall be an unfair labor practice for an employer— (5) to refuse to bargain collectively with the representatives of his employees, subject to the provisions of section 9(a) [section 159(a) of this title].

Usually the management Informal idiot is taken aback and sometimes goes and gets the information while you wait. The arrogant and/or ignorant ones will tell you to get back to work.

Have them sign block 13A on the 8190’s immediately, once you sit down for a meeting! If they refuse to sign, write that on the forms, “Supv Refused to Sign” in their signature line, and give him a copy of the two 8190’s, showing the refusals. Now you can put in a request for time for submitting documents to the new 17.3 & 31.3 grievance. They will be minimal, but it still is time on the clock.

Be sure that any time a supervisor does not grant you the request of time to file or investigate a grievance, they must tell you when the date and time it will be made available. This is supported by 2 Step 4 decisions:

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 grievances.

M-00127 Step 4 Nov. 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.

Continued Right Column

If they do not do so, be sure to immediately file a violation of Article 17 & 19 for not following the Step 4 decisions, which are agreed to by both parties at the National Level and are precedent setting. You have taken control of a supervisor trying to demean your position as the NALC Steward. You now have 3 grievances in matter of minutes to file against the stoopidvisor. He has now escalated one grievance to three, and one labor charge, without really trying…and that is the point, he is not trying to do his job!

When you file the 17 & 31 grievance you should make sure you mention that it is a “companion grievance” to the first initial grievance. This lets the Step B team (if not settled at the Formal A) know this came about due to management’s failure to provide information or time for the initial grievance. The same should be done with the Article 17 & 19 grievance.

You should also mention in the initial grievance’s contentions that “companion grievances” for Steward’s Rights violations were filed at the Informal A level. This will also let the Step B team (if not settled at the Formal A) not to decision the initial grievance without looking at the companion grievances, so they will have the complete picture of what happened.

You now add an Article 15 violation for failing to follow the DRP process at the Informal A level and for refusing to sign the PS Form 8190 as outlined in the JCAM pg 15-3:

15.2(c) If no resolution is reached as a result of such discussion, the Union shall be entitled to file a written appeal to Formal Step A of the grievance procedure within seven (7) days of the date of the discussion. Such appeal shall be made by completing the Informal Step A portion of the Joint Step A Grievance Form. At the request of the Union, the supervisor shall print his/her name on the Joint Step A Grievance Form and initial, confirming the date of the discussion.

You can add the Joint Statement of Expectations to your grievance packet for the 17, 31, & 15 grievance. This is found in the back of the DRP booklet and is a Step 4 document, M-01492. Two of the main statements are printed below:


  • We will make every effort to establish and maintain a more constructive and cooperative working relationship between Union and Management at all levels of the organization by promoting integrity, professionalism, and fairness in our dealings with each other.
  • We will make every effort to resolve our disputes in a professional manner and to avoid any unnecessary escalation of disputes, which may adversely impact adherence to the above principles or adversely influence union-management relationships at other levels of the organization.

Although, there is really nothing enforceable in this Joint Statement, you can show how management is not fulfilling their obligations that the National parties agreed to. They agreed to cooperate at all levels in the organization.

When a management Informal A rep refuses to sign the 8190, not only does he violate Article 15, he violates the spirit and intent of the Dispute Resolution Process. Asking that the supervisor be instructed to complete training, such as “Working with People Effectively”, “How to be a Jerk without Really Trying” and/or “How to Tie a Tie without Cutting Off Oxygen to Your Brain” would be a good remedy. (Just in case…the last two don’t really exist… :)

Of course, you should ask that completed certificates be presented to the Union upon completion of the course(s), and that it must be completed within a certain amount of days from receipt of the resolve. A time limit should be established, so they must comply or you have another Article 15 grievance for non-compliance of the resolve.

I’ll get back to you…

One issue I have heard from some Stewards across the country, is that management is saying they have 5 days to make a decision after the meeting, so they will get back to you. Let’s see, how do I say this…THAT IS UTTER CRAP!

Prior to the end of the Informal A meeting, management must give you a decision on the grievance. They must either sustain the grievance, which means you convinced them they are an idiot (and they agree), or they deny the grievance (and continue being an idiot). Either way, the decision must be given to you by the end of the meeting. Do not let them intimidate you on this. You are the moving party. You determine when the grievance moves up to the next level. Keep control of YOUR grievance!

The JCAM mentions a resolution should be reached at the Informal A meeting:

JCAM 15-2(b): …The local parties are not prohibited from using the Joint Step A

Grievance Form to memorialize a resolution reached at an Informal Step A Meeting. No resolution reached as a result of such discussion shall be a precedent for any purpose. (JCAM pg 15-3)

15-2(c): If no resolution is reached as a result of such discussion, the Union shall be entitled to file a written appeal to Formal Step A of the grievance procedure within seven (7) days of the date of the discussion. (JCAM pg 15-3)

There is NO extra time given to management to make a decision unless you MUTUALLY agree to an extension. This is NOT an extension of the meeting, but just for the decision, and this must be specifically written in the extension!

“We mutually agree to extend time limits from (current date), until (extended date) for management’s decision only on Grievance # XXX. ”

This stops management from contacting labor and adding all sorts of other documents or arguments they forgot about, or were too ignorant to know. If you MUST extend, only extend for the decision.

I personally would not extend for any decision. Management knew what documents you requested and had an idea of what the grievance would be. No one needs time beyond the meeting time to make an Informal A decision. They are using that time to get the “real authority” time to make a decision for him to puppet back to you. He is supposed to have the authority. Make him use it.

Management could bristle and tell you that you can’t do anything with the grievance until they make a decision. WRONG! YOU are the moving party and the Union only has 7 days to appeal the case to the Formal A rep. If he takes 5 days to make a decision, he just used up 5 of your 7 days. Management just screwed you over. That is why it is important to get management to sign the PS Form 8190 upon sitting down for the meeting. Get the date and signature, or initials, on the form as quickly as possible. There will be no argument about when the meeting occurred when this is done.

If they refuse to sign the form, stating they will sign the form when they make a decision in 5 days, and you wait for them…you have just lost control of your grievance! If you forgot to sign an extension, you’ve just missed your time limits.

A devious supervisor can come back and say you are now untimely, and that is their decision, because you are now 5 days past the 14 days, and they did not sign the form.

However, if you have them sign the form at the beginning of the meeting, you maintain control of the grievance. If they tell you they are going to wait to make a decision, it doesn’t matter. You have a signed 8190 that has the date when management met with you. You have 7 days from that point to move the grievance up. You should write a statement that management failed to render a decision at the Informal A meeting. You now have control of YOUR grievance, and there is not a thing they can do about it!

Once you have done all the correct steps, and they want to deviate from the process, that does not mean you are to do so. Once the supervisor signed the form, you control the destiny of that grievance packet.

They may take 5 days to make a decision, however, the Formal A rep should already have the case file and is prepared to appeal to the management Formal A rep within the 7 day period. It doesn’t matter what the supervisor wanted to do after he signed the form.

If, by chance, management decides he wants to settle the grievance, you should keep a copy of the PS Form 8190. Call the Formal A rep and tell them the Informal A idiot just decided to settle the grievance. The Formal A rep can hold onto the case file, or if it has already been appealed, agree to have it remanded to the Informal A parties to resolve. Have the management Informal A rep sign off on the resolve and thank them for the consideration.

If the supervisor gets all miffed about you forwarding the grievance up without a decision, he may rant and rave and act every bit of the 5 yr old that he is. He may even want to call the Step B team to tell on you! Wah…wah…wah!

Remember that any call to the Step B team must be an agreed to joint call. If he states to you he wants to call the Step B team, tell him to go ahead, but you don’t agree to a joint phone call, and that would be ex-parte communication on his part. This establishes control once more of the grievance.

He may even order you into the room for the joint call, however, once on 613 time, you are his equal, you are not his employee. Tell him you are not going to participate in the phone call, the JCAM is clear on how the process works. Remember, “Idiots don’t know they’re idiots…till you show them.”

But I digress…You have now established you control the Informal A meeting, and not management. The Union is the moving party in a grievance.

Back to Information…

Now, let’s get back to the Failure to Provide Information… if they are so inept they cannot get you your requested information, move the grievance forward.

You immediately move the grievance to your Formal A Rep. Your notes should state that you gave management the option to get the Union the requested information within the time limits and at the Informal A meeting, and they refused. Include all information requests in your grievance packet and your statement and the grievant’s statement about the meeting, along with all your documents.

If it is a contractual violation…you should state that you don’t even know if there is a violation yet, since you could not review the documents. By “Failure to Meet”, management is needlessly escalating the grievance to another level, thereby, costing the postal service more and more money.

They are creating a needless financial liability to the Postal Service by the supervisor’s laziness or arrogance. Time is being wasted and is helping to create a hostile working environment between the Union and management.

Now, what if they refuse to meet on the day requested and it’s the 14th day?

When they refuse to meet in the allotted time, it is not your job to hunt them down once you have requested the meeting in writing. If they do not meet, simply write in the supervisor’s space, 13A, on the PS Form 8190, “Failed to Meet”.

Now, move the grievance. Write a statement that management would not meet with you in the prescribed time limits violating the spirit and intent of the DRP process and Article 15. Be sure to include all information requests, your statement, and the written request to meet for the Informal A meeting.

I Wasn’t Given Time…

If you have been given the information for a grievance, but have not been given the time to review the information. There are two avenues you may take for this.

One…You may take the information to the Informal A meeting and at the beginning of the meeting, begin your review. Tell management they did not give you the time to review the information, so you are not sure if a violation exists or the extent of the violation(s). You are going to now review the information during the Informal A meeting. You will let them know when you are ready. Be sure the grievant is with you.

If management will not allow you to review the information, be sure to ask the supervisor, “You have not allowed me the time requested to review this information during the 14-day period, are you stating now that I am not allowed to review it during our meeting?”

If they tell you to get back to work, be sure you include in your statement you asked the question and management’s reply. This will show they did not give you time to review the information, even at the Informal meeting. That is not good faith bargaining. Then move the grievance up. The Union has 7 days to appeal it to the management Formal A rep. So the grievance packet needs to get to your Formal A rep ASAP.

Appealing the Grievance

If you are not the Formal A rep, follow your local instructions for the appeal. Our branch likes the Formal A rep to do the appeal so that they can keep track of the time limits. There is nothing worse than the Informal A rep appealing the grievance and does not get the grievance packet to the Formal A rep in enough time for the Formal A rep to review it properly before the time limits expire. The Formal A rep can send out a certified letter for the appeal on the 7th day and gain more time to review the grievance. Follow your local instructions for the appeal.

If you are also, the Formal A representative, then you may already have an idea about the violations of the grievance, even without the documentation requested. If you are not the Formal A representative, then you must give the Formal A representative a heads up about the grievance and the failure to provide you with information. This is not the best situation to put a separate Formal A rep in, so option 2 would be the better route to take.

The second way to handle the lack of time to review the grievance is to do it on your own time. This is not what the DRP process was created for, but if moronagement will not comply with the process, then you may have no alternative. Follow your local branch directives on this issue.

If you must work at home for a grievance, you must document the time you spend on a grievance to be paid for it.

I have seen too many cases where the Steward contends they spent 2 hours at home working on a grievance and want payment for it. But, they don’t even include a written log of when they began and what time they ended. Sometimes they do not even include the date they worked on the grievance. That should be the very minimum you would do.

However, I’m afraid even that would not be enough to establish “evidence, or proof” that is the actual time you spent on the grievance.

Here is a foolproof way to PROVE you spent the time at home on a grievance. Set up a camera and document, in real time, the time spent working on a grievance. Video the documents first to show what documents you are working one, so there is no dispute what grievance you are working on and sit down and work in front of the camera using those documents.

This provides “evidence or proof” that they worked the time they said they worked, and I think it is the best idea to prove that you had to work at home. No one can dispute that you did not work the time you are requesting when you provide it on a videotape or CD/DVD.

Remember if you state you worked on a grievance at home, it only becomes a contention that you did…unless there is proof that you did. Recording the time on camera provides evidence to the case file and it is no longer a contention…it is now proof of what you did at home. No one can argue with it. They can watch what you did in real time!

A Steward should always think of how they can PROVE a contention. A contention just states what you want someone to believe. The evidence proves your contention. A contention should be proven, either by a document, contractual or JCAM language, rules or regulations in the handbooks or manuals, or by statements, or interviews included in the case file.

If you have documents in the case file, and you never used them in your contentions, or are not there to disprove a management contention, what is it doing in the case file? It becomes an irrelevant piece of paper that the Step B team or arbitrator spends time trying to figure out how it applies to the case. Time is wasted on irrelevant documents. Use only what proves your case or disproves theirs.

Copies of every page of an Article from the JCAM, does not need to be in the file. You can cut and paste sections if you feel you must add it to the file, however, the Step B team and arbitrators will have the JCAM and National Agreement at their disposal when they are reviewing your case file. Don’t kill trees copying every page of JCAM to make your file thick. Refer to the articles in your contentions.

If you are referring to other handbooks and manuals, then copies of those sections relevant to your arguments should be included. Especially if you are referencing a handbook that is more obscure and not referenced all the time. An example might be the PO-701, Fleet Management Handbook.

You control what happens with the grievance from the initial information request to the request of the Informal A meeting. You must control the meeting itself and how that meeting proceeds.

Too many Stewards complain that “Management did not give me the information I requested…I’m so backed up now, I’m months behind and it’s hard to keep the extensions timely…they won’t meet with me…What’ll I do? What’ll I do? Poor little me…”

Get a Grip

If you are find yourself in this group…get a grip! National has provided you with the tools to control the grievance and you must use them. It is easier to tell you to grow a set, and get in there and take it to management…however, if you don’t start getting a grip on YOUR rights and what YOU can control, then you will always be at the mercy of management and cannot represent your carriers effectively.

Management has the responsibility to get you the information you requested, and to meet with you in a timely manner. You have the responsibility to make sure YOU hold them to their responsibility. Just because the idiot in the tie refuses to do their job, don’t let them cause you to not do yours. Move the grievance! There is nothing worse than the idiot in the tie, making you an idiot in uniform!

Remember…there is no such thing as “he didn’t give me the information so I’m stuck on this grievance…He won’t meet with me…He won’t give me the time to review the information! ” Get a grip!

Use the tools provided you by all the years of grievances, pre-arbs, and arbitrations. The tools are there, but you must not be afraid to use them.

Once you establish that you are in control of the grievance process, your confidence, and your effectiveness will soar. You must not be afraid to use the tools provided by years of work by National. If you choose NOT to use them, then you are not representing your grievant in the best manner possible. And isn’t that why we are doing this job?

So the change must come from within you, to use the tools National and all the Stewards that came before you grieved and won for you! I didn’t say this was easy, but this is where you must start.

Giving management the control over OUR grievance, denies you your rights as a Steward and the rights of the grievant to be heard in a timely manner. Get a Grip and take back the control and pride in being a NALC Steward!

Use the strategies of Controlling the Grievance and let management know who is in charge!

Good Luck Fighting the Good Fight!

Coming Soon:
Controlling the Grievance-Part 3- The Formal A

Special Thanks to Rick Owens and PostalEmployeeNetwork.com for all his support for the “The Belden Factor”.

Written by: Denny Belden

Step B Member
Former President
Former Steward


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


USPS Discounts
PostalEASE Login



About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Advertise With Us Contact PEN
Comments by HaloScan

 Copyright © 1997 To Date Postal Employee Network - All rights reserved.