Tips for Grievance Presentations
1. When you and the manager meet to discuss a complaint or grievance, you hold equal status to the manager. You are there as PIPSC’ representative, meeting with the employer’s representative, rather than as an employee meeting with your manager.
2. In presenting a case to management, try to emphasize that your arguments are not personal, but rather reflect the position of the Institute. “It is PIPSC position that…”, “The Union contends that…”, and similar phrasing is preferable to “It is my position that…” or “I contend that…”.
3. A good chronology to follow when presenting a grievance is to:
a) State the facts. Try to not to argue contentious points at this stage; instead, simply tell the story of what happened (from PIPSC’ perspective, of course).
b) Present your arguments, referring where applicable to the Collective Agreement, previous adjudication/arbitration decisions, and past practice. Having first set out the facts, this is your chance to present a clear argument about what the facts mean.
c) Answer questions and concerns raised by the employer, both those raised in writing and those raised verbally. Ask at the end of your presentation whether management has any questions that you or the grievor can answer.
4. Stay respectful towards individuals, and always remain civil. While there is no need to shy away from a candid appraisal of the merits (or lack thereof) of a particular decision, belittling comments or other negative remarks have no place in a grievance hearing. Remember: hard on the issue, soft on the people.
5. Don’t be afraid to be heard without interruption when it is your turn to carry the ball. Give management the facts, and if they disagree don’t retreat. Agree on whatever facts you can, then carefully explain the exact issue or issues on which you disagree.
6. Stay focused. Management or the member may sidetrack the hearing by leading the discussion off onto some other issue. It is generally best to let them talk themselves out, but don’t become diverted from the main issues of the grievance. When the offending party has finished, bring the room back to the facts of the individual grievance at hand.
7. Be a good listener, and let management talk. Management may have information that you don’t have, no matter how carefully you collected the facts. If something new comes to light in the hearing, calmly request clarification, listen carefully to management’s answers, and try to take good notes. Even when you don’t agree with management’s point of view, it is good psychology to let them talk and get their concerns off their chest.
8. Keep calm and carry on. Don’t lose your temper or be drawn into a heated debate. Even if the other side appears to succumb to anger, you should always ‘keep your cool’.
9. Don’t bluff. It won’t help your image or PIPSC’ image if you make things up. If you don’t know, commit to finding out and providing a timely follow-up.
10. Don’t discuss personalities, if at all possible, and try not to use generalities. Everyone in a grievance presentation should be there to deal with a specific case founded on specific facts.
11. Know when to stop talking. Once management understands your arguments, and particularly if management agrees with you on a grievance, don’t continue to rehash your arguments.
12. Follow up. Keep track of the timelines for management to issue a response and for a grievance to be transmitted if management fails to issue a response within the appropriate time. Whatever the outcome, be sure to advise the grievor of the results as soon as possible. Where appropriate, notify members of the bargaining unit about the status of the grievance and its results.