As a Steward, we have two main jobs—first, building a strong union in our work place; and, second, grievance handling.
To be effective, we must protest management actions that violate the collective-bargaining agreement, are arbitrary or unfair, or threaten the health or safety of employees. In response, management may try to intimidate or harass us or impose discipline.
To prevent reprisals and to gain management’s respect – we must be well prepared. Our most valuable tools are union solidarity, contract rights and labor law rights.
A Union Steward’s rights are determined by three basic factors:
Union Solidarity: This is the cohesion and determination of the employees we represent. A steward backed by a unified group, willing to act if the steward is attacked, has significant freedom of action.
Contract Rights.: A strong union contract forbids discrimination against union activities and guarantees time for union business.
Labor Law Rights: Federal and state labor laws prohibit interference with legitimate union activities, protect stewards in presenting grievances, force employers to supply grievance information, and require employers to bargain before making changes that affect employees.
A steward’s job is important and exciting. We protect jobs and welfare of our fellow employees and use our leadership skills to build the union.