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Writing the grievances.

The Step 1 written grievance gives the employer official notice that the union is pursuing the matter.

It's not hard, but you should pay careful attention to a few little legal phrases we're going to give you. It could become important later if the case should go to arbitration.

A good written grievance contains three parts:

Circumstances: A one-sentence description of what happened (or didn't). This sentence includes the grievant's name or names and indicates where and when the incident occurred. Keep it short. You're not arguing the case here. You're telling what happened.

Statement: A sentence that indicates why this is a valid grievance. For example, "The employer violated Section __ of the contract and all other relevant sections of the contract." If you' re aware of any past practices or other violations relevant to this grievance, you can include them.

You should be able to cite the specific sections of the contract that were violated. In a pinch you can write, "This action was in violation of the contract."

Remedy: This tells the employer what the union is asking for. Basically, we consider what the worker(s) would have if the violation had never occurred: wages, back pay, seniority rights, benefits, and so on.

If you know the remedy you seek, write "that the worker be made whole, including but not limited to [remedy]." If you haven' t determined the remedy, you can write simply "that the worker be made whole in every way."

If it's a broad policy change, you can ask that management "rescind this change and restore former conditions" or "cease and desist this practice."

If this is a grievance involving discipline of individual workers, don't forget to show them what you've written and explain what you' re doing. Make sure they're in agreement.

A few sample Step 1 written grievances are provided just to give you the hang of it.