1. Should you have a Union Rep present during Disciplinary Meetings?
We have often been asked whether it is advisable, or even mandatory to have a Union representative present when you are required to attend a meeting where disciplinary action is being discussed, or warning letters are being issued. As a member of COPE LOCAL 131 it is your right to have a Union representative present during any meeting of this nature, but it is not mandatory. In many cases management will communicate with COPE and have one of the stewards or Union Council aware of the meetings ahead of time, but it is always your choice whether any Union Member is present. If for any reason you would prefer to have the meeting on your own without a Union Steward present, that again is your right, and your choice.
Remember, Union presence is there to support you, to make sure that any outstanding questions are answered, and to make sure that you fully understand the process and what options you have moving forward.
2. If I choose NOT to have a Union Rep present at a meeting will this affect my right to file a grievance at a later time?
Absolutely not. As stated before, Union representation is there for your support.
If for any reason you would prefer to handle a disciplinary or warning letter meeting on your own, that is always your decision, and will in no way affect your right to file a grievance on the matter should you choose to do so.
If you do choose to attend a meeting solo, please remember to clarify any outstanding questions you may have about your review or letter, ask for copies of any documentation that is presented, and above all, remember to TAKE NOTES.
3. I suspect that I may be given a warning letter at an upcoming meeting, but I am not overly concerned about it. Doesn’t having a Union Rep present make the situation into a big deal ?
Not at all. Management is quite used to Union representation at these meetings as a matter of course and our presence there in no way inflames the situation. The role of representation is to simply support our members. Even if there is a conclusion or assertion made during any of these meetings, that the rep or Union strongly disagree with, it is never the Union’s position to be confrontational, and that is the advice we also give to our membership. These meetings are meant to be informative and should always be handled respectfully. If there are issues that need to be addressed, there is a formal grievance process that can be relied on if necessary.
4. When can I file a Grievance, and how do I go about it?
You have 30 days to file a grievance from the time you are aware of the situation or outcome. You should always consult with one of your Union Council to determine whether an issue or situation should be grieved. In many cases your Union rep may be able to suggest alternatives to resolution, and may be able to communicate on your behalf to have an issue solved or at least addressed outside of the grievance process. You should always attempt to address any issues with your management team and administrative channels first prior to considering the grievance process. If for any reason this is not possible, please consult with one of your Union representatives.
If it is determined that an issues should be brought forward in a grievance, please be prepared to provide the following:
- Detailed timeline of events (written not verbal)
- Copies of any and all documentation
- Copies of communications up to date, regarding the issue