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Ten Tips for Writing a Grievance

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  1. Limit details to basic information.
    Provide only enough information to identify the grievance so that management understands:

    a. what the basic problem is,
    b. what violations have occurred, and
    c. how the problem should be fixed (remedy).
  2. Don't include the union's argument, the union's evidence, or the union's justification for its position.
    Management could use this information to prepare a better case against the union. (Arguments, evidence and justification for the grievance should be used only in oral arguments with management. In this way, you can introduce this material when it best helps in winning the grievance. If need be, jot these facts down on a separate piece of paper before you argue the case with management.)
  3.  

    EXAMPLE:

    Instead of writing, "The grievant, Billy Brown who has six years seniority in her job classification, was abused and discriminated against by management by laying her off when three other people in the same classification, with less seniority, were kept on."

    It would be better to write, "Management unjustly laid off Billy Brown..."

  4. Don't limit contract violations.
    In stating WHY there is a grievance, use the phrase "violates the contract" and the words "including Article ..." when citing specific articles or sections in the contract. (By adding the word "including," you can always add additional violations of the agreement if they are found later.)
  5.  

    EXAMPLE:

    Instead of writing, "Management's action violates Article VIII, Section 4 and 5 of the contract."
    It would be better to write, "in violation of the contract, including Article VIII, Sections 4 and 5."

  6. Avoid personal remarks.
    The grievance states the UNION'S position, not your opinion or the grievant's opinion. Avoid the use of phrases like "I think" or opinions about management officials.
  7. Don't limit the remedy.
    If you limit the remedy, you don't allow the union room to bargain on the grievance. You also might limit the union to something less than full compensation for the grievant by leaving out something you may remember later. This can be accomplished by using the general phrase "made whole in every way" and the word "including" when referring to specific remedies. (The general phrase "made whole in every way" means that the grievant should receive any and all losses due to management's action. This could include interest on money, wages, seniority, job rights, etc. whatever is due the grievant according to the contract. The word "including" allows you to add specific remedies later on, in writing or in oral arguments with management.)
  8.  

    EXAMPLE:

    Instead of writing, "The union requests that the grievant, Billy Brown, be recalled to her job classification with full back pay for all wages and benefits lost."
    It would be better to write, "The union requests that Billy Brown be made whole in every way, including recall to her job classification and full back pay for all wages and benefits lost."

    But just because you use the general phrase "made whole in every way" does not mean that an arbitrator or management will search out all the specific benefits management denied the grievant for you. It is up to YOU to list (verbally or in writing) any remedies not noted in the original written grievance.

  9. Consult with the grievant.
    Go over the written grievance. Explain the requested remedy and get the grievant's full understanding and agreement.
  10. Sign the grievance.
    Have the grievant sign the grievance. This gives the union the right to settle the grievance as it sees fit.
  11. Maintain solidarity.
    Explain the grievance to your members and be sure they understand and support your efforts.
  12. Communicate.
    Keep the grievant up to date on each action. Don't wait for him/her to come to you.
  13. Keep arbitration in mind.
    Prepare each case on the assumption that it may go to arbitration.