Thorough Investigation Saves a Job

        The steward’s investigation can be the most important work a steward does. I once had a case where my investigation saved a man’s job.
Take notes         
The company came to me and announced that they had received a serious complaint on a driver and were considering termination. They showed me the written complaint. A lady was charging that the driver was hanging around her kids, asking the 10 year old boy to do stuff like play catch and tried to give the girl a hug. When the mom confronted him, he even had the audacity to make amorous advances toward her also. The company’s case looked pretty strong. I knew my investigation would have to be quick, yet thorough. So I set to work. 
        Here is how a good investigation is done.
The first thing you want to do is learn the facts. 
           Who is involved. 
           What was said or done? 
           When did it happen? 
           Where did it happen? 
           And Why did it happen — what ‘s the underlying cause?
        In conducting a thorough investigation, you should interview all witnesses, request all relevant information from management in regard to the case, review the contract to see what violations occurred, look to see if a past practice was violated, and examine to see if there are grievance settlements on similar situations. Additionally, it is crucial that you document your investigation (take notes), especially interviews with witnesses, because if a case goes to panels, the panel may make its decision based on the evidence that you are uncovering.
Investigate         After you’ve investigated a grievance that does not involve a termination, you would want to present the facts and circumstances that led to the grievance, listen to management’s response to see if there is any room to settle, and if not, end the meeting. We call this agreeing to disagree. You are under no obligation to agree with management at this meeting. If you cannot resolve the grievance at this step, take the necessary action to move the grievance to the next step.
        In my case where the woman was accusing the driver of inappropriate behavior, I knew my first goal was to save this driver’s job. I interviewed my driver and he was adamant that his actions were not out of line. He didn’t understand why the mother was so upset, he felt he hadn’t done anything wrong. As often happens in a situation like this, the company’s iron clad case began to unravel as the investigation revealed facts not in the original statement. In this case for instance, it turned out that while the driver was often in uniform, all of the interactions had occurred after work at the house of the mother and the two kids. Could the company terminate an employee for actions that occurred after work?
        I wanted to interview the mother and kids, but you have to be very careful when the other people involved do not work for UPS. Always ask your BA for advice before conducting offsite interviews. In this case, I was allowed to speak with the aggrieved party on the phone and this turned out to be the crucial interview.
        In this case the driver’s job was saved because a thorough investigation brought to light facts that the company case did not reveal. This driver was one of many drivers in our building this summer working unbelievable amounts of excessive overtime. He had not been home before dark on even the longest of summer days, he had violated 60 hours on several occasions. The family that had he was trying to ingratiate himself to turned out to be his own family. They didn’t recognize him anymore since he only ate and slept there when everyone else was in bed.
        Doing a thorough investigation is a important part of a steward’s job.