1. A grievance can only be based on a violation of the contract?
False. A contract violation is a key ground for a grievance—but not the only one. A grievance can be also be filed over a violation of company policy or the law—safety and discrimination laws are common examples. You also have the right to file a grievance if management engages in unequal treatment or violates a past practice.
2. Stewards and members are not allowed to solicit grievances?
False. This is a common misconception. But there is no law or rule against soliciting grievances. In fact, for active stewards and Teamsters, "soliciting grievances" is part of the job. When management violates the contract, you should encourage members to enforce their rights—including filing a grievance if that's what it takes.
3. In your grievance, you have to tell management how to fix the problem?
True. Every grievance should include a remedy, where you spell out what you want management to do to fix the issue or resolve the grievance. It's a good idea to include the phrase, "Make the grievant whole in every way." That way you'll be covered if you left something out of your remedy.
4. Each person affected by a problem has to be named on the grievance, otherwise they can't be part of the grievance settlement?
False. Class Action grievances can be filed on behalf of every employee affected by a problem, whether the individuals sign the grievance or not, as long as the grievance states who the affected group is. (For example: "All affected employees who were not properly paid for the Labor Day holiday" or "All affected employees on the second shift.") Group grievances that include the signatures of multiple employees can be filed—and they are a good tactic for building unity and putting pressure on management to resolve a problem. But even on a group grievance, make sure to use the phrase "all affected employees" so no one gets left out of the settlement.
5. Always make sure to include the exact date when the violation occurred in your grievance. If you're not sure, guess?
False. Grievances can be thrown out on technicalities like the wrong date. If you're grieving something that happened on May 4, write "On or about May 4." That way you're covered if you're a little off with the date.
6. When you're writing your grievance, make sure you put down the entire story with all the details. The best grievances have a blow-by-blow account of everything that happened?
False. Keep your grievance short and sweet. Including arguments or evidence on the grievance forms makes it easier for management to prepare to shoot you down. Save these for your first meeting with management.
7. Workers at ABC Manufacturing have always had five minutes of wash-up time at the end of the shift. Now a new manager says employees have to work until it's time to punch out and wash up on their own time. This is an example of a potentially winnable past practice grievance?
True. If an employer takes away rights that employees have had for a substantial period of time, it may be a violation of past practice. But past practices are complicated and the devil is in the details. Is it a long-standing practice? Did it happen consistently, repeatedly and with management's knowledge and acceptance? Is the contract silent or ambiguous about the practice? If the answers to these questions are yes, you probably have a past practice grievance.