To Our Stewards, Thank you…
Teamsters Local Union No. 261 was chartered by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters on September 1, 1936. It first made it’s mark as a truck drivers & helpers union, but when those members came into contact with thousands of workers in warehouses, factories, schools, offices, hospitals, local government and a host of others, they realized the fact that those workers could also benefit from the organized workforce environment.
In the 1970’s and 80’s, Teamsters Local Union No. 261 had a sharp reduction in membership due to some of the larger freight company’s leaving our jurisdiction. Since that time, Teamsters Local Union 261 has come back stronger than ever due to aggressive organizing and solid leadership.
That leadership includes the Union Stewards in the workplace that provide the essential link between the members, company and the Union. Without their willingness to serve in this capacity, attend educational seminars and spend many hours each year doing this work, the strength of the Union would be greatly diminished.
The Officers and Executive Board of this Local wish to thank each and every one of the Stewards and Committee people who volunteer to service in this capacity for their untold hours spent each year researching and filing grievances, negotiating contracts, attending meetings and unselfishly protecting the rights of fellow Teamster Brothers and Sisters.
-The Officers and Executive Board
WHAT IS A GRIEVANCE?
Teamster collective bargaining agreements – or “contracts” may define a grievance in several ways:
- Any dispute between the union and management over the application and/or interpretation of the agreement; or,
- Any dispute or difference arising between an employee and management or between the union and management; or,
- A violation of the contract.
Look at your Teamster contract to find the definition or a grievance and how it applies to your workplace. It will tell you what you can and cannot process through the grievance procedure. For example, some contracts allow you to grieve violations of state, provincial, municipal or federal law, company rules or policies, unfair or disparate treatment or workers and “past practices.” Others do not.
Some contracts limit your ability to grieve certain clauses. Only by reading your contract will you be able to understand what you can and cannot process through the grievance procedure.
Contractual grievances include violations of:
- The contract
- Memoranda of understanding or side letters
- Previous arbitration awards
Many of your grievances will relate to violations of the contract, such as disputes over interpretation of the written language of your contract or spirit of negotiations. Sometimes, you will reference the article and section of the contract that you believe has been violated. Other times, you will refer to your bargaining notes where the parties – labor and management – talked about the specific contract clause in questions or spoke of their intent at the time the language was proposed or agreed upon.
THE SIX W’s OF GRIEVANCE HANDLING:
- WHO Who is involved?
This might include the member’s full name, employee number, department, job classification, pay rate, shift and seniority date(s) or other information for all involved.
- WHEN When did it occur?
Try to identify the specific date, time or shift an incident took place. Or, you might want to establish a chronology of events.
- WHERE Where did it occur?
The exact location where the incident occurred, on or off employer premises.
- WHY Why is this a grievance?
Contract language, work rules, policies or procedures, or laws that were violated.
- WHAT What kind of settlement do we want?
What does the grievant want? What is needed to restore the worker to the same position if the injustice has not occurred. For example, if an employee was discharged, the demands for settlement may be reinstatement with back pay and benefits.
- WITNESSES Were there any witnesses?
Reach out to the individuals who may have seen or heard what took place.
_____Interview grievant. Listen carefully to his/her story.
_____Have grievant write his/her rebuttal to discipline (if appropriate.)
_____ Interview grievant’s co-workers.
_____Interview witnesses and management, Get the 6 W’s! Get a written, signed statement from witnesses.
_____ Keep written records of all interviews.
_____Request copy of personnel file (if disciplinary grievance).
_____Request any other management records needed (personnel policies, payroll records, seniority list, attendance records, etc.
_____Determine if the problem affects others in the workplace.
_____Determine if filing a grievance is the best strategy for solving the problem.
_____Check previous grievance settlements for precedents.
_____Check the experience of other stewards in similar cases.
_____Seek advise, if needed, from Chief Steward or Business Agent.
_____Review the case with the grievant.
_____Anticipate and prepare for management’s arguments.
_____Outline your presentation in writing.
_____Inform other workers about the issue and organize support activities for the grievance, if appropriate or if it’s a group grievance.
The roll of the steward in the grievance process is critical. Stewards must know the contract and be aware of what can and cannot be brought before management. Stewards must investigate issues, problems and concerns carefully so that they are well prepared to advise the member or confront management. Stewards are advised to take notes and use a Fact Sheet to help organize the information collected during the investigation stage of the process. Use a checklist (found above) to ensure that the investigation was thorough.
In 1975 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in the Weingarten decision, that an employee is entitled to have a union representative present during any interview which may result in his or her discipline. It is up to you to insist on union representation. If you fail to do so, you may waive your rights.
DO THE FOLLOWING:
1) Ask your supervisor if you might be disciplined as a result of the interview. If he says “NO”, ask for a written statement to that effect. If he gives you such a statement, you must participate in the interview. If not, read him your Weingarten rights, remain for the meeting, take notes, and afterwards immediately contact your union representative.
2) If he says you might be disciplined but will not allow you to have a union representative present, read him your Weingarten rights, stay in the room, take notes, and do not respond to any questions. Afterwards, contact your union representative immediately. If he allows your union representative to be present, you should participate in the interview.
If you are called to a meeting with management, read the following to management or present this statement before the meeting starts:
IF THIS DISCUSSION COULD IN ANY WAY LEAD TO MY BEING DISCIPLINED OR TERMINATED, OR AFFECT MY PERSONAL WORKING CONDITIONS, I RESPECTFULLY REQUEST THAT MY UNION REPRESENTATIVE, OFFICER, OR STEWARD BE PRESENT AT THIS MEETING. WITHOUT REPRESENTATION PRESENT, I CHOOSE NOT TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS DISCUSSION.