Providing a Written Statement

        Should a steward advise a member to provide a written statement of events when the company asks for one? At the time, it may seem like a good idea because it allows the worker to explain his actions, but my advice is always NO.
        Let’s say a driver has been accused of being unprofessional with a customer. The customer has called in a complaint. What happens now? The company has the right to conduct an investigative interview. They have the right to ask questions and hear the driver’s side of the story. As a steward, I would advise the driver to be honest, but cautious. There is no need to elaborate on every answer. Do not feel that a lull in the questioning needs to be filled with elaborations.
        Reduced to writingOften, the investigative interview is concluded with a request for the member to write down the events in question and provide the written statement to the company as soon as possible. Sometimes they want the member to write the statement on the spot. That’s not a good idea.
        The company has the right to take notes during the investigative interview. The driver’s oral answers to the company’s questions will constitute the driver’s statement. But a written statement almost always works to the detriment the member. The company compares the written statement to the facts provided in the interview and invariably finds a discrepancy. Then they accuse the driver of dishonesty.
        If the company chooses to pursue the complaint, than it is reduced to writing. This means that the company gets the complaint in writing. The contract says that in this event, than the driver has the right to respond in writing. This response should address the concerns raised in the written complaint. Again, there is no need to elaborate. It’s always better to say too little rather than say too much.
        Know your contract language concerning formal complaints and member statements. Providing a written statement is more likely to cost a member his job rather than save it. Be aware of the dangers.