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Work Rights Press

P.O. Box 391066, Cambridge, MA 02139 Press Advisory For immediate release, September 24, 2012 For more info contact: Rand Wilson, (617) 949-9720

1New book promoting revised "Just Cause" standard will jump start union grievances
Noted labor lawyer Robert M. Schwartz has written a new book entitled, Just Cause: A Union Guide To Winning Disciplinary Cases that presents a new framework for stewards and union leaders to analyze and present disciplinary cases. Schwartz's work is based on more than four years of research into 15,000 arbitration awards and the author's long experience representing unions. "The previous benchmarks -- or "Seven Tests" -- for Just Cause developed by an arbitrator in the 1960s are out of date," said Schwartz. "While several of these tests have been accepted by the arbitration profession, others, such as the necessity for an "objective" investigation, have not. They are long overdue to be discarded or modified." Moreover, says Schwartz, the "Seven Tests," widely used by unions in the U.S. and Canada, inexplicably omitted two concepts frequently cited by arbitrators when overturning punishments: progressive discipline and mitigating circumstances. Modifying the seven tests, Schwartz's book documents what he terms is the far more widely accepted "Seven Basic Principles of Just Cause." These are: 1. Fair notice An employer may not discipline an employee for violating a rule or standard whose nature and penalties have not been made known. 2. Consistency An employee may not be penalized for violating a rule or standard that the employer has failed to enforce for a prolonged period. 3. Due process An employer must conduct an interview or a hearing before issuing discipline, must take action promptly, and must list charges precisely. Once assessed, discipline may not be increased. 4. Substantial proof Charges must be proven by substantial and credible evidence.

5. Equal treatment Unless a valid distinction justifies a higher penalty, an employer may not assess a considerably stronger punishment against one employee than it assessed against another known to have committed the same or a substantially similar offense. 6. Progressive discipline When responding to misconduct that is short of egregious, the employer must issue at least one level of discipline that allows the employee an opportunity to improve. 7. Mitigating and extenuating circumstances Discipline must be proportional to the gravity of the offense, taking into account any mitigating, extenuating, or aggravating circumstances. Schwartz's book explains each principle, cites relevant quotations from authorities, provides sample letters and checklists, and shares many "grievance tips" directed to shop stewards and union officers. A final chapter deals with practical subjects such as writing up a grievance, deadlines, requesting information, presenting a winning argument, and building solidarity. As with all of Schwartz's books, Just Cause is well illustrated. The price for single copies is $20.00 and can be ordered from Work Rights Press at: There are discounts for bulk purchases. Schwartz is the author of several popular union labor law guides, including, The Legal Rights of Union Stewards and The FMLA Handbook: A Union Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act. The book was released on September 1, 2012. Schwartz is available for interviews and to conduct workshops on Just Cause and other topics. ###