Workplace issues

“Advanced Formal A and Beyond” training program

Application form

Click here to download a fillable PDF form. Open it, fill it out, save it, and then print it out and mail it to the address at the bottom of the form.

Problems? Click here to download a standard PDF version of the application.

“Advanced Formal A and Beyond” is for NALC activists who have some experience at Formal Step A. The focus of this program is to teach participants to look at every Formal Step A case file from an arbitration advocate’s point of view. This training also sharpens the skills needed for enforcing the National Agreement at Formal Step A and provides an experience of what it’s like to serve as a Step B representative.

There is a lot of emphasis placed on handling situations where management fails to follow the grievance procedure as required by the National Agreement.

Two sessions have been scheduled for 2018: Sept. 16-21 and Oct. 21-26.

Scores of NALC activists who have been through this training program. Each person who attended this training filled out an exit survey. The general comments from these surveys reflect the fact that, from the participant’s point of view, this is an excellent training program.

To be accepted to attend this training, applicants must have some current experience presenting grievances at the Formal Step A level of the grievance procedure and be able to bring a Windows-based laptop computer (no Apple products) to the training. (Attendees will be using computers a lot during this week of training and some of the applications we will be using are not compatible with Apple products, hence the restriction on Apple computers for this training program.)

Photo gallery

Photo album from the Oct. 2017 class (Flickr)

Photo album from the Sept. 2017 class (Flickr)

You might not consider attending this training because you are already an experienced representative and think it would be a waste of your time and branch resources. However, participants in the first three classes have had anywhere from a few months to 28 years of experience processing grievances at the local level. None of the participants so far have left this training thinking that it was a waste of their time or branch resources.

Also, adjustments have been made to this training program after each session based on comments and suggestions from the participants. These have made it a little better each time.


The Advanced Formal A and Beyond training program is built for 80 participants per class. The goal of the program is to help experienced activists sharpen their skills to process grievances at Formal Step A more effectively. Nothing we do is more important than using the grievance procedure to protect and enforce the contractual rights of our brothers and sisters.

This training program takes the participants from the point of receiving an Informal Step A grievance appeal through all aspects of processing a grievance at Formal Step A to the point of writing a Step B decision.

Each Advanced Formal A and Beyond training session begins on Sunday afternoon and ends on Friday at noon. This training is conducted at the Maritime Institute just outside of Baltimore. This is a union facility that is located just minutes from the Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) Airport. A free shuttle to and from the airport is available.

The expenses associated with attending this training are paid by the branches that decide to send the participant(s). There have also been a few instances where participants have paid their own way to attend.

The price—subject to change—includes room, tax, all meals and refreshments during breaks each day.

Those who have already submitted applications will have an opportunity to attend a future training session.

If you are interested in attending but have not applied yet, click here to download a fillable PDF form. Open it, fill it out, save it, and then print it out and mail it to the address at the bottom of the form. (If you have problems with the fillable form, click here to download a standard PDF version of the application.)


The following is a list of most of the topics that will be covered and the practice exercises that will be set up for the participants.

Grievance processing topics:

Completing PS Form 8190 Time limits Information/interview requests
Conducting interviews Investigative interviews (pre-discipline) Documentation
Organizing files Issue statements Undisputed facts
Disputed facts and contentions Remedies Additions and corrections
Appealing cases to Step B    

Other topics:

Effective writing Burden of proof Negotiating
Writing settlements Article 16 (just cause) Article 8

Hands-on practice exercises:

Presenting grievances at Formal Step A Writing Formal Step A grievances Using grievance starters
Computer training—search, cut and paste, etc. Researching arbitration decisions Meeting at Step B
Writing Step B decisions    

Special thanks go out to the facilitators who helped present this training. The main facilitators were Regional Administrative Assistants James Henry (Region 1), Steve Lassan (Region 8), Javier Bernal (Region 10) and Rick DiCecca (Region 14). Tonya Detrick (Branch 443), Greg Dixon (Branch 1119) and Mark Sims (Branch 203) also made guest facilitator presentations during each session.