Local 37 -
Last modified: Wed, 12 Oct 2005 09:31:57 -0600

Letters of Expectation: These are management tools that the Employer may use that are presented as "non-disciplinary", and therefore may seem on the surface to be of less concern than Letters of Warning. However, there are a number of concerns about these documents that members need to be aware of. Most importantly is that the Employer often uses these to do an end run around the Disciplinary provisions of the Collective Agreement (Art. 23), and therefore around the protection that Article 23 provides you. How is this so?

-These Letters go on your Personnel File; however, not being "disciplinary" means that you cannot apply to have them removed after 12 months; they have the potential to remain on your file indefinitely.
-They are not bound by the 10-day time limit to impose discipline. As a result, you could find yourself being challenged for an incident that occurred so long ago that you can no longer remember the facts and details well enough to adequately defend yourself.
-Unlike Disciplinary letters, the Employer is not required to provide a copy of Letters of Expectation to the Union. As a result, if the Letter is referenced in a future Discipline, the Union does not have access to that document and cannot respond effectively in behalf of the Employee.
-The Employer may not even provide you with the opportunity for Union representation when giving you one of these Letters, and may not give you the required 24-hours' notice of the meeting.
-If the Letter is inaccurate or unreasonable, there is no opportunity for the Union to file a Grievance and have it removed from your file, if it is allowed to stand as "non-disciplinary".

So what to do if you receive such a Letter? First, call a Union rep immediately. If you are called into a meeting with your Manager, ask if it is Disciplinary, and request a Union rep even if the answer is "no". Whether or not the Employer allows you to have a Union rep, make photocopies of the Letter you receive, and provide whatever Union rep you contact a copy of that Letter. Remember, unlike a Letter of Warning, the Employer is under no obligation to provide the Union with a copy; therefore, it is up to you to do so. The Union will need to assess whether to file a Grievance, alleging that the Letter is Disciplinary and that it needs to be covered by the protections of Article 23. If this Grievance is successful, the Union can then either have the Letter removed completely if it was untimely or is unjust, or it can be cleared off the file after 12 months.