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The Life-Cycle of a Typical APWU Grievance

Patricia Meanor
by Patti Meanor, October 2002

Members often call wanting to know when their grievance will be scheduled for arbitration.

The only answer is what Article 15 of the National Collective Bargaining Agreement provides. Once your grievance is appealed to arbitration, it will be placed on the appropriate pending arbitration list in the order in which it was appealed. At the rate grievances are filed for alleged violations, your grievance could take years to be scheduled in front of an arbitrator on the appropriate arbitration panel.

Step I begins the process of the grievance-arbitration procedure.

Arbitration is the end of the process. Arbitration is final and binding. Win or lose, both parties must abide by the arbitrator's decision.

At each step of the grievance arbitration procedure, both sides have the authority to settle or withdraw the grievance in whole or in part. Because of this authority to settle or withdraw a grievance at every step of the grievance arbitration procedure, the PMAPWU steward must have full development of all facts in all grievances they file from the beginning.

This places the responsibility for the full development of your grievance on your union steward at your work place. You must disclose all information to your union steward so that he/she does a thorough investigation. Your union steward must gather all the facts and include all arguments with supporting documentation at the time of his/her Step I meeting with your supervisor.

When your supervisor denies your grievance, it is forwarded to the Union office where it is appealed to Step 2. During the appeal process, if all the facts and all arguments with supporting documentation are not attached to the grievance, a memo is sent to the union steward, with a carbon copy to the grievant, requesting the documentation to support the Union's position.

Your union steward's documentation, or lack of, is critical, because at Step 2 of the grievance-arbitration procedure, both parties are mandated to make a full and detailed statement of facts relied upon, contractual provisions involved, and remedy sought. Well-developed grievances have a chance to be settled at a lower step of the grievance arbitration procedure, and that benefits our members.

The three craft directors, as Step 2 designees of their respective crafts, are responsible for making full disclosure at their Step 2 meetings with management. The Step 2 meeting is the Local Union's last chance to settle the grievance prior to the grievance either being appealed directly to arbitration or to being appealed to Step 3 of the grievance-arbitration procedure.

Each Craft Director/Step 2 Designee should review each grievance after the Step 2 meeting, and they should make a recommendation to either appeal the grievance to the next step of the grievance arbitration procedure, or to withdraw the grievance. They should attach documentation to support their recommendation.

A review of every grievance by the respective Craft Director/Step 2 Designee, along with their supporting arguments and documentation, enhances the possibility of the grievance being settled without having to go to arbitration. This process forces us to scrutinize each grievance, ensuring that it is a violation of the National Collective Bargaining Agreement and/or the Local Agreement.

The parties (APWU & USPS) at the National level recognize that there are alleged violations that are ongoing. The Union can file grievances for the repetitive violations daily, monthly, or by pay period.

Article 15.2 (Step 3)e: "Where grievances appealed to Step 3 involve the same, or substantially similar issues, or facts, one such grievance to be selected by the Union representative shall be designated the 'representative grievance'."

The representative case will be appealed to arbitration. The rest of the grievances are held at Step 3, pending the outcome of the "representative" case.

Our representatives at Step 3 went one step further. Once the representative grievance is identified, they have agreed to hold the grievances at Step 2 of the grievance procedure, pending the outcome of the representative case. Grievances that we had appealed to Step 3 are now being returned to our local.

Read on to Part 2:

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