Handling Grievances: Hints For Stewards

  • Know your membership.
  • Encourage the membership to steer all grievances towards the union.
  • Know your collective agreement.
  • Make sure the griever know what the issues are.
  • Separate personal vendettas from real grievances and remedies.
  • Plan and prepare your case at every stage.
  • Brief your member before every meeting you both have with management.
  • Present a united front when meeting with the management, especially if you meet as a committee.
  • Try to settle the grievance early on, if possible before filing.
  • Discourage members from discussing a grievance with management after the Union has become involved.
  • If you have to hold a meeting with a manager on your own, explain to you member why you are doing it and what you expect to get out of it.
  • Listen to the company’s side -- record their arguments.
  • Find out how management defends their decisions – get the company’s answer in writing.
  • Don’t try to prove that the company has done wrong; make them prove that what they have done is right.
  • Be firm without being discourteous; don’t lose or temper; don’t go see the manager when you are mad; don’t be timid or apologetic either – it’s your job to fight for the member’s rights.
  • No deals; no horse-trading; don’t get sidetracked – each grievance stands on its own merits.
  • Keep your member(s) informed at every stage.
  • Be honest with your members.
  • Discourage your membership from processing their own grievances and never settle privately with management.
  • Be a good speaker and a good listener, both with management and with the membership.
  • Be a good winner and a good loser. Use the experience as a learning tool to better prepare yourself for the next time.

Before you see the manager, ASK yourself the following questions:

  • Do I have all the facts from the worker?
  • Is there other information that I need? (e.g. from witnesses)
  • Have I checked all the facts by looking around the establishment, checking the seniority and other lists, talking to other Stewards and union officers?
  • Have I carefully checked the collective agreement and labour legislation?
  • Have I made a clear record of all the facts gathered on the Fact Sheet?
  • Have I explained the case to the worker(s) involved?