Can I Solicit Grievances?

I’m a new steward at UPS. I’ve been encouraging members to file grievances against excessive overtime and supervisors working. My supervisor told me that I need to watch my step because I am not allowed to “solicit grievances.” Am I doing something wrong?

- Troublemaker in Training

Dear Troublemaker,

It’s your supervisor that’s wrong. There is no prohibition against “soliciting grievances.”

Encouraging members to enforce their rights is “protected concerted activity” under the National Labor Relations Act. The Troublemaker’s motto is: “Soliciting grievances: that’s the job of a steward!”

A supervisor who threatens a steward with discipline for doing his or her job, including “soliciting grievances,” has made an illegal threat and committed an unfair labor practice. In that event, you or your local union can file a charge with the NLRB.

Your supervisor’s comment falls in a gray area that makes him a bonehead or a sneak—but not necessarily a lawbreaker.

You should continue encouraging your Teamster brothers and sisters to file grievances to enforce the contract. If your supervisor makes another comment, you should let him know that he’s out of line, and you’re prepared to file an unfair labor practice charge if it continues.

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