Beating Management at the Grievance Game

How to protect members and enforce the contract when management is trying to derail the grievance procedure.

The grievance procedure is supposed to protect members from unfair discipline and hold the company accountable to the contract.

Management plays a variety of games to derail the grievance procedure and undermine our rights.

Teamster Voice interviewed experienced Teamster stewards about common company
tactics—and how stewards and members can beat management at the grievance game.

The Fishing Expedition

Management has the right to ask questions in an investigatory interview. But don’t fall for a fishing expedition. Members who are called into the office should have their steward with them and be prepped to keep their answers short and simple. If you’re asked about something and you don’t remember, just say so. The worst thing you can do is to make up a story and give management an excuse to try to discipline you for dishonesty.

The Blowout

Another common management tactic is to try to get you to lose your cool. They’ll put a member or steward down, shout or pepper us with ridiculous questions—whatever it takes to provoke a reaction they can use against us. Don’t give them the satisfaction—or the upper hand.

Keep your cool and think twice before reacting to a statement or question. A member or steward can stop a meeting at any time and call a union caucus. Use the caucus to calm things down and keep on track.

Shifting Burden of Proof

In a grievance or disciplinary hearing, it’s up to management to prove an infraction and to justify the level of discipline. But a common trick is for management to try to shift burden of proof onto the employee.

In some cases, management will even start out a meeting by saying, “Do you know why you’re here?” or “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t fire you right now.”

Other times, management is more subtle, but their goal is the same.

Don’t let management turn the tables. In a disciplinary meeting, the shop steward or union representative should always insist that management present its case first.

Make management answer the question, “Is that your entire case?” Then, use the Seven Steps of Just Cause to show that management failed to meet its burden of proof or that the discipline is too severe.


Management will frequently ask a steward or union rep to drop one grievance to get a settlement on another. This is a recipe for permanent surrender. Once you go down this road, management will never settle a grievance without trading it for something. Grievance settlements can involve compromise. But all grievances should be pursued on their individual merits.

Side Issues

Supervisors love to change the subject to get out of resolving an issue. Instead of discussing a grievance, they’ll bring up other problems or side issues. Redirect the conversation back to the issue at hand—as often as it takes: “We can discuss that later. Right now, we’re talking about this grievance.” Don’t take the bait and let management sidetrack the meeting.

The Stall

This is the most common management game—and the toughest to deal with. The right way to deal with company stalling depends on the situation.

Sometimes group pressure is in order. If the problem affects a large number of members, file a group grievance. Make sure both the union and the company get a copy and follow up with your union rep so they know it’s a priority issue to members. A group of members can raise the issue together in the office—or at a union meeting—to make sure a grievance isn’t ignored.

If the company is wasting your time by stalling, it may be time to take up some of management’s time. Under the National Labor Relations Act, and many Teamster contracts, the union has the right to file an information request and get documents from the employer that are pertinent to the union’s investigation of a grievance. Hitting management with a reasonable, but detailed, information request is one way to make management pay the price for not responding to a grievance.

Publicity can have its place. Some stewards pass out grievance updates to keep members informed about the status of grievances—and to keep certain grievances in the public eye. Post a union countdown with the number of days that management has been ignoring the grievance.

Hold a Grievance Update meeting in the break room. Have employees wear stickers that say, “Respect.” (Note: Your right to wear stickers or take other group actions depends on your employer and your contract. Contact your union rep or call TDU before taking group action.)

Generally speaking, it’s easier to resolve grievances at a lower level in the grievance
procedure. Take action early and target the people who have the ability to settle the issue. Don’t wait until a problem is tied up in arbitration or headed to a panel.

By using smart strategies, we can beat management at their grievance games.

Rights & Resources: 

I wonder if this driver got into trouble??

                  Hazmat crews clear UPS delivery truck after driver felt ill

MIDWAY CITY – Hazmat crews were called to inspect the contents of a delivery truck after its driver reported feeling ill, fire officials said.

Westbound traffic on Bolsa Avenue was blocked for about two hours as firefighters checked whether something inside the truck caused the driver to feel sick. At about 11:30 a.m., fire officials determined there were no hazards inside the truck, said Capt. Steve Concialdi of the Orange County Fire Authority.

Orange County Register

Remembering TAW

Remember TAW.?

Temporary Alternate Work.
That wonderful program where if you got injured at work and went out on Comp., UPS made you work an 8 shift everyday that you would have collected comp so that you were earning your comp and they didn’t have to show you as being on Comp. Nifty.

The bigger problem with the program was that they made you work the night shift. It was harsh punishment to make drivers work eight hours on the midnight shift. It made people feel worse instead of better.  Finally, again, it took wording in the contract to get this abuse stopped. 

This article explains why we considered TAW to be punishment for reporting an injury.

             Working Night Shift Can Cause Body Chaos

A new study conducted by the British researchers indicates that working night shift is strongly associated with body long-term damage and chaos.

The researchers at the Sleep Research Centre in Surrey found that being awake causes a high scale, speed and severity of damage in body.

They followed 22 people as their body was shifted from a normal pattern to that of a night-shift worker.

The body analysis of participants uncovered a link between the night shift work and higher rates of type 2 diabetes, heart attacks and cancer, according to the study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The night work disrupts the human body’s natural clock that has its own rhythm, tuned to sleep at night and be active during the day.

“Blood tests indicated that normally 6% of genes with the instructions contained in DNA were precisely timed to be more or less active at specific times of the day.”

The recent study demonstrated that the genetic fine-tuning was damaged in the volunteers who were working through the night.

“Over 97% of rhythmic genes become out of sync with mistimed sleep and this really explains why we feel so bad during jet lag, or if we have to work irregular shifts,” said one of the researchers at the University of Surrey, Dr Simon Archer.

“Every tissue in the body had its own daily rhythm, but with shifts that was lost with the heart running to a different time to the kidneys running to a different time to the brain,” explained the fellow researcher Prof Derk-Jan Dijk.

Negative side effects often show up after several years of shift work. These changes in rhythmic patterns of gene expression are likely to be related to some of those long-term health consequences, he elaborated.

An earlier study carried out by the Danish Cancer Society also unraveled that night shift woman workers were threatened by a 40 percent higher risk of breast cancer compared with peers who worked days.

Hate when that happens

                        UPS Truck Rolls Onto Side on Freeway

A UPS driver lost control of her work vehicle Saturday morning, causing the big, brown truck to roll onto its side on Interstate 15 in San Diego’s North County.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the accident happened around 9:20 a.m. in the fast lane on southbound I-15, south of West Bernardo Road.

CHP officials said the vehicle tipped over and landed on the driver’s side, blocking the traffic lane.

The UPS driver’s boss spoke with NBC 7 at the scene and said the truck blew a tire, causing the female driver to lose control of the vehicle. She was not injured in the crash, her boss said.

She was able to get out of the vehicle and into a tow truck following the crash. No other cars were involved and no one else was injured.

The accident caused some traffic congestion in the area as a tow truck crew worked to get the UPS vehicle upright again. Near the tipped truck, several spilled UPS parcels were strewn along the shoulder of the freeway.


Who bit whom ??

                SW Wash. man says UPS driver kicked his dog

CASTLE ROCK, Wash. — A dog owner has accused a UPS delivery driver of kicking his pet. The owner said the delivery driver claimed he was acting in self defense. 

The shepherd-lab mix in question, Merlin, has one blue eye, one brown eye and his owner says he’s a sucker for a good back scratch.

“That’s his favorite thing,” said Lee Wilson, Merlin’s owner.

But, a run-in with a UPS driver last Wednesday has Wilson demanding answers. According to Wilson, the driver kicked his dog in the throat after the driver said the dog lunged at him. 

“He did not charge after the UPS guy, nor did he charge after his truck,” Wilson said. 

Wilson said Merlin simply barked at the driver when he came to the door. That’s when Wilson claims the driver kicked Merlin. 

“No warning, no nothing. He just simply kicked Merlin in the throat. Do UPS workers really have the right to kick your animal?” said Wilson.

Wilson said he wants a sincere apology from UPS and to make sure it doesn’t happen again to any other dog in the neighborhood.

“I do not believe in animal abuse. The truth is, I don’t buy his [the delivery driver’s] story,” Wilson said.

“I’m sorry to hear about the purported incident involving our driver and a customer’s dog,” said Dan McMackin, spokesman with UPS in an email to KGW. 

McMackin said he would have the local operations manager reach out to Wilson to discuss what happened. 

“As far as our drivers’ safety related to dog bites, we instruct our drivers to follow some common-sense but key measures when approached by dogs. One of those measures is obviously to defend themselves as best they can if being attacked, and to try to avoid an attack in the first place if possible,” McMackin added.

Wilson’s neighbor, Jim Cloke, lives a few houses down and said he doesn’t blame the UPS driver one bit. 

“No matter who stops there the first thing that dog does when the door opens is the dog comes out and lunges at you,” Cloke said. “If I were a UPS driver, they would just have to come and pick up [their packages] and that’s all there is to it.”

Other neighbors, like dog owner Rachel Crowe, said it’s a case-by-case basis.

“If a dog lunged at me, of course I would defend myself, but if it didn’t lunge at me, well then, I would be mad. I would be really mad,” she said.

McMackin added that UPS asks its customers to keep pets under control when drivers make deliveries to “try and avoid the situation to begin with.”

On Monday night, UPS said the driver, who is also a dog owner, wants to have a meet-and-greet with Merlin so a similar incident doesn’t happen again. 

by Erica Heartquist, KGW Reporter