Tips for Writing Grievances

Writing an effective grievance is the first step to winning and the foundation for your case.

Avoid common mistakes with these Teamster Grievance Writing Tips.

Contact Local 71 to get help preparing your grievance.

Just the Facts

A rule of thumb is to keep your grievance short, sweet and to the point. Explain the basic problem, indicate which contract or other violations have occurred, and lay out how management needs to fix the problem.

Adding your arguments, evidence and justifications only reveals your hand to management. Save your arguments for when you present your grievance to management.

Take 'Em One at a Time

There may be a lot of problems going on at once. Each grievance should focus on a specific contract violation and what you want done about it. If management is violating the contract in multiple ways, file multiple grievances. But take each issue one at a time.

Use Catch-Phrases to Cover Yourself

Due to time constraints there isn't always time to do a full investigation before you file your grievance. Using flexible language will allow you to avoid getting your grievance tossed out on a technicality.

When you write your grievance use the expression, "Management violated contract articles including but not limited to Article 4, Section 2." By adding "including but not limited to," you keep the door open if, later on, if you need to add additional articles that were violated. When referring to the date of the violation, write "On or about July 3" in case you're a little off.

Tell 'Em What You're After

The grievance should tell us what happened, but also needs to be clear about what we want management to do about it. This is called the remedy.

Don't forget to ask for back pay and benefit contributions where appropriate. Include the phrase "Make the grievant whole in every way" in your remedy to cover anything you might have left out.

Pay Attention to Deadlines

Stay on top of the time limits. The easiest and most frustrating way to lose a grievance is by failing to make the deadline for filing or appealing. The grievance section in your contract spells out the steps in your grievance procedure and the deadline for each one.

Power in Numbers

Are you grieving an issue that affects a lot of members? A good tactic for building unity and putting pressure on management to resolve the issue is to file a group grievance.

Write up the grievance, and then circulate it among members like a petition. A list of signatures sends management the message that this is a serious problem, not an isolated complaint.

Use this as an opportunity to educate people on the issue.

A good strategy for a successful group grievance is to collect signatures from the members who feel strongly about the issue. That way when you approach less outspoken members they are more likely to sign.

You should still include the language "all affected employees" to ensure that no one gets left out of the remedy.

Group grievances empower members by getting them involved. They also send a clear message of unity to the company.