Writing the Grievance

The grievance gives the employer official notice that the union is pursuing the matter. It’s not hard, but you should pay careful attention to a few little legal phrases. It could become important later if the case should go to arbitration.

A good written grievance contains three parts:

Statement of violation- The statement section indicates why this is a valid grievance. Begin the first section of the grievance with the words, ” We, CWA Local 4900, charge (Use your company name)________ with, but not limited to, violations of the spirit and intent of Article ___ Section ___ of the contract and all other relevant sections of the contract.” In a pinch you can write, “This action was in violation of the contract.”

Circumstances- After the statement above you begin the next section with the date of occurrence. When citing dates, precede the actual date of the event with the phrase, “On or about.” If this happened on two dates, you stand on firmer ground for the grievance. After the date add a one-sentence description of what happened (or didn’t). This sentence includes the grievant’s name or names and indicates where and when the incident occurred. Keep it short. You’re not arguing the case here. You’re telling what happened. Use flexible language.

Remedy- This tells the employer what the union is asking for. Basically, we consider what the worker(s) would have if the violation had never occurred: wages, back pay, seniority rights, benefits, and so on. If you know the remedy you seek, write “that the worker be made whole, including but not limited to [remedy].” If you haven’ t determined the remedy, you can write simply “that the worker be made whole in every way.”  If it’ s a broad policy change, you can ask that management “rescind this change and restore former conditions” or “cease and desist this practice.”

If this is a grievance involving discipline of individual workers, don’t forget to show them what you’ve written and explain what you’ re doing. Make sure they’re in agreement.

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