Step 1: Identification

Almost every workday stewards hear complaints about something on the job. To help determine whether or not these are legitimate grievances, there is a five-step formula that you can follow when handling any workplace problem or complaint that may be grounds for a grievance:

  1. Identification
  2. Investigation
  3. Documentation
  4. Preparation
  5. Presentation


Know the definition of a grievance found in the contract or work rules. In addition to stating what a grievance is (as an example, “any dispute over the interpretation or application of the agreement”), there may also be some contract provisions that are excluded from the grievance procedure. Armed with this basic information, you should next answer the following questions:

Did management violate any of the following?
1) the contract
2) a work rule or regulation
3) a policy or procedure
4) any federal, state, county or municipal law
5) any health and safety regulation
6) past practice

Did management’s action constitute unfair or disparate (unequal) treatment of an employee or group of employees?

Did management engage in discrimination or harassment?

Did management take disciplinary action against an employee or group of employees?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” there is a good chance that grounds for a grievance may exist.

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