Grievance Presentation Points

  1. Prepare the case in advance. Prior to the grievance hearing, the Floor Representative should have already: interviewed the grievant and witnesses; checked the employee’s file; gathered all relevant facts; reviewed applicable contract articles; formulated arguments and prepared written notes; and anticipated management’s arguments. Preparation leads to a confident presentation!
  2. Equal status with management. As a Union representative in a grievance hearing, you have equal standing with management. Insist on being treated as such.
  3. Stick to the facts – Stay focused – Avoid bluffing. Define the union’s position in clear terms and with specific facts. Do not get side-tracked. Stay focused on resolving the grievance.
  4. Act professional and disagree with dignity. Do not get personal or hostile. It is best to disagree firmly and clearly.
  5. Take notes. It is critical that good notes are taken as your record of the hearing.
  6. Listen. Listen and observe body language. Let management make its case without interruption. The burden of proof is on management in disciplinary cases.
  7. Ask questions. Always ask questions for clarification and understanding of what management is saying as well as when you want management’s position committed for the record. Questions also can break up management’s attempts to lecture the Union.
  8. Avoid arguments or disagreements among Union members. Once in the meeting, the Union must maintain a united front. If there are internal disagreements, or if the grievant’s story changes, take a break. Always maintain control.
  9. Management face-savers. The grievance may be one that management wants to settle but does not want to appear as caving in to the Union. Be aware of such signals and attempt a solution that is good for all. This is a long-term relationship.
  10. Creative solutions. Try and explore creative ways to resolve the grievance, especially at the lowest level of the process. However, guard against any remedies that would violate or undercut the contract, or set bad precedent.