It is essential that good notes are taken at all times. These notes become record of the grievance and carry significant importance for many reasons…
- You won’t always remember all that you heard
- These records may be used by other Union representatives who may handle later steps of the grievance
- Written notes help you to compare statements from both the grievant and management
- Writing down notes allows the member to see you are taking an active approach to listening to the issue
- Note taking allows you to organize and be more thorough in your investigation and presentation
In order to make the investigation and grievance process easier you should always:
- Have the member fill out a District 4 grievants statement to get a written account of the events. After time the recollection of events becomes sketchy so its best to have members write the timeline of events while it’s fresh in their minds.
- Ask the member to repeat information so that you accurately take notes. Let them know these notes are for Union eyes only.
- Try to get direct quotes in your notes and indicate as such.
- When you are finished with the interview go over your notes with the member to make sure you have written everything accurately. Again this conveys to the member you have in fact heard them.
- When in doubt, write it down.
Taking good notes doesn’t just stop with interviewing the member, it carries into grievance meetings with management as well. You should always prepare for every case you handle as if it were going to arbitration. Without good notes you will find yourself losing more than you win.
When taking notes during a grievance meeting, ask management to repeat things to make sure you have it down properly. This will give you some measure of control over the pace of the meeting. It also allows you to stay on task without getting frustrated.
Keep in mind that everything you learn about the grievance you are investigating is evidence. From the moment someone comes to you with a complaint or problem, you should take notes. Those notes not only help you begin to figure out how to handle the grievance, but you may be able to use them as evidence, too.
If you always take notes, you will develop a record of what you saw, what you heard, and what you were told. Your notes tell a story that may help you win your argument. But in order to use them as evidence, you need to make sure to fully document your investigation.
Each time you write something down, date it. Put down the time as well, if that seems important. Indicate where you are and the names of everyone present. Every conversation with management is an opportunity to collect evidence as well as to get a glimpse of what their argument will be.