What Every Steward Should Know

The Collective Bargaining Agreement - Read it so you know where to look for provisions. Discuss it with fellow officers and stewards so you know how it is interpreted. Study past grievances and arbitration awards so that you know if there is a precedent for your case.

Employer's Policies and Workplace Rules - Watch the bulletin boards and read all notices. Read the organization's newsletters and financial reports. Watch the newspaper/television for news of your employer and the industry.
Labor Legislation - Keep up on current labor legislation, especially as it affects you, your members and the union.
Working Conditions - Know the working conditions at your organization, especially where they might result in injury or illness.
Supervisors - Get to know the supervisors at your organization and how they operate.
Your Own Members - Get to know your members, their jobs and their attitudes.
Local Union Activities - Keep up on union activities and try to participate and encourage your members to participate.
Union Policies - Know both local and national policies, including the constitution and bylaws.
With this knowledge you will be able to protect the rights of your members under the contract; protect the rights of your members under the law; insist on those past practices that benefit your members; do everything possible to secure a healthy and safe workplace; make sure the employer sticks to the rules; and strengthen the union, encourage solidarity and so make the union policies effective.
You can best educate your membership by (1) giving advice and information; (2) being a good listener as well as a good talker, and (3) setting an example.
SOME "DO's":
  • Inform each member personally about union meetings and encourage them to attend.
  • Attend meetings yourself.
  • Keep your members informed about union policy.
  • Distribute union literature.
  • Keep the bulletin board up-to-date and direct your members' attention to it.
  • Be a counselor, but, keep all confidences.
  • Encourage members to make use of union services and education classes.
  • Keep your members aware of political and legislative issues affecting them and the union.
  • Quash all false rumors publicly and track them to their source.
  • Make discrimination among your members unacceptable: your employer may try to "divide and conquer"
DON'T discriminate in personal relations with members, or handling grievances over: race, religion, color, sex, national origin, political opinion, age, sexual orientation, or your own personal prejudices, likes and dislikes.
When you join a union, you have rights non-union employees do not. Only union members have the protections and benefits of a legally binding union contract, negotiated, voted on and approved by you and your co-workers. You join together with co-workers to build an employee organization that gives you a real say over your job, puts you on more equal footing with your employer, and ensures a better economic future for you and your co-workers.