Work it Out

Good Stewards win grievances through negotiation with the company, organizing workers in support of each other, and making effective presentations at grievance meetings and arbitration hearings…Better stewards solve problems before they ever become grievances.

It’s always best to try and work out a solution before going through the grievance process. A union that can accomplish solving an issue early, allows members to see results quickly and demonstrates the Unions effectiveness. Resolving issues at an early stage also builds a positive relationship with management.

During the grievance process you might want to find ways to reach a fair settlement or resolution of the issue at hand. You may have to ask management a lot of questions in order to find a way for both sides to reach an agreement.  In order to do this you must find what it would take to accomplish this task by posing the right questions to management:

  • Do you understand the problem we are trying to resolve with our remedy? Or how do you see it? ” Perhaps management is not clear on the issue.
  • What is it about the proposed remedy that you have a problem with?” Maybe the remedy has one item that is a sticking point for management that you might want to modify.
  • Do you have other ideas for how we can resolve this issue“? Maybe management will offer an acceptable remedy or a place from which you can start.
  • What if any are your concerns if you were to agree to our proposed solution“? Managements answer may surprise you. It maybe something you can assure will not happen. Management may also be over estimating the impact of resolution or for that matter completely misunderstanding the true nature of the resolution you are seeking.
  • If we address your concerns in that area, do you think we can reach an agreement on the rest of our remedy“? If you can live with managements concern and adjust, he/she may be able to agree to reach an agreement on a resolution you have provided.
  • Why is that your position“? Perhaps management feels trapped into a position that you can convince him/her they are wrong about.
  • Can you explain how you arrived at that decision“? If you understand managements reason you maybe more equipped to counter their arguments. Perhaps management is unaware of basic facts in the case.
  • Are you saying you have no flexibility whatsoever“? If flexibility is indicated you’ll know you have some room to operate. If not, you may consider moving to next step.
  • Can you make us a counter proposal on that“? You may at first find the counter unacceptable but it could open doors to leading to an acceptable deal.
  • What if we agree to this case not being precedent setting for other cases“? Avoid making an offer on the issue as it may come back to bite you later. Look at each case and decide if this could be the case down the road.
  • The grievance system is a way for us to resolve problems. Why are you unwilling to look for ways to settle this issue“? Put the burden on management to defend its position. Perhaps they will open a door to some type of solution.

Make sure before settling that you discuss with grievant(s) and get their approval. You might also wish to discuss with Union Officers any precedents this might set for future grievances.

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