WE’RE WORKING ON IT: If it’s important, get it in writing

One piece of advice frequently offered by GSU staff reps is “get it in writing.”

“There are many different situations where members may receive verbal assurances, instructions or directives,” said GSU staff rep Steve Torgerson. “Conversations can be interpreted differently, and often having it put to you in writing clears things up. That benefits both parties.”

The collective agreement is a great example of having important understandings and commitments in writing, but it doesn’t cover every workplace scenario. For example:

  • Work relationships and understandings vary between workplaces, and what you have done at one location may not necessarily be the practice at another. If you find yourself being directed to do something that makes your spidey-sense tingle, it’s best to get those instructions in writing.
  • Verbal or handshake agreements may eventually extend beyond the employment of current out-of-scope managers or supervisors. Without having details and assurances set out in writing, you can only rely on them as far as they take you.
  • If you are instructed to take actions that may go against company policy, you need to protect yourself by receiving direction in written form.

If you aren’t comfortable physically asking for something in writing, don’t be shy to send an email or your own written letter. It’s as simple as saying,

“Things were hectic when we spoke/There was a lot to take in during our conversation/I’m about to get started, so I’d like to make sure I have our conversation straight. As I understand it, [state your understanding of what was asked/agreed upon/directed]. Would you take a moment to reply and confirm whether that’s correct? And, of course, if there’s anything you need to clarify, I would appreciate it.”

If you have any questions or require clarification, don’t hesitate to reach out to a GSU staff rep.

Our services are provided to you as part of your union dues. There is no limit to the times you can request help and there is never an additional charge for assisting you.