You’re the person workers turn to with their problems. It might be a work-site hazard. Maybe someone’s been fired, or perhaps layoffs are threatened. It might be just a new employee with a question. Perhaps you can solve the problem with a friendly word, or maybe you’ll organize a worksite action or file a grievance. Your Role as a Steward, the Basics.
Solving problems on the job depends far more on the courage and unity of the members. “Grievances should never be confused with your chief responsibility as a steward: to build a united, organized, and involved membership in your workplace.” Your Role as a Steward, in-Depth.
You are the front-line union representative for your co-workers, and they will depend upon you for leadership. When you’re dealing with management on union business, you deal with the employer as an equal. Download the complete SEIU Steward’s Manual.
Different problems require different strategies. Sometimes grievances involving an individual member’s indiscretion-lateness, absence, errors in judgment — requires you to respect the person’s privacy. Other grievances require informing and involving the entire membership. Rights, Procedures and Best Practices, Disputes and Grievances.
Weingarten was a U.S. Supreme Court case that gave workers the right to have a steward present in some circumstances “when a supervisor asks for information that could be used as a basis for discipline.” It’s important to remind your members about their Weingarten rights now and then: Workers should always request a steward if a meeting could lead to discipline. The nurse should ALWAYS ask: “If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions, I respectfully request that my union representative be present.”
The National Labor Relations Act forbids employers from interfering with, restraining, or coercing employees in the exercise of rights relating to organizing, forming, joining or assisting a labor organization for collective bargaining purposes, or from working together to improve terms and conditions of employment, or refraining from any such activity. National Labor Relations Board.