Happy Spring Brothers and Sisters!
At a recent membership meeting, I discussed the responsibilities of a Steward and the importance of appropriate and diligent representation.
The role of a Steward is to represent the members with a full understanding of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Steward must familiarize himself with the provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the JCIM (Joint Contract Interpretation Manual), Local Agreements and employee rights such as FMLA(Family Medical Leave Act), EEO(Equal Employment Opportunity, and the National Labor Relations Act, to name a few. The Steward should gain such information through seminars, research, attendance at local union meetings and contact with local leadership.
Among the many roles of a Steward, a Steward is also faced with the grueling task of representing all members despite personality conflicts, work ethic, opinions, diagreements etc. There is a fine line when you are acting as a co-worker and a Steward.
Under no circumstances should any Steward not represent a member to the best of their ability simply because they do not "like" this member for reasons as mentioned above. One of the hardest responsibilities of a Steward is to act as a mediator in situations where you may not agree with the member you are representing. I always encourage Stewards to be truthful with any member when they feel the member is not acting in their own best interest or in the best interest of others, specifically their co-workers.
Conversely, I do not encourage any Steward or member to express these differences to management. We are a UNION. We do not divide. Member to member complaints occur all too often. Think twice before you put any concern to writing to any management official. Utilize your resources first. Your UNION! In most situations, local union leadership can assist in member to member situations with a much better outcome than if the matter was brought to management. It must be noted however, that we cannot and will not encourage, enforce or entertain any discipline on any member. That is not what we do!
It is human nature to not always get along with others, however the responsibility and focus of a Steward is to represent, not to rat. The responsibility of a member is to unite, not divide. Bluntly put.
In any workforce, you cannot control the work ethic and behaviors of another. In no way am I suggesting that any member or Steward tolerate acts such as Zero Tolerance, Abuse, Harassment, Discrimination, etc. I am simply reinforcing the responsibilities of a Steward and encouraging all members to recognize the importance of your UNION.
Steward elections are this month (May). If you intend to run for this position, best of luck from all of your local officers!
Work together, stay strong together!
As always, I am only a phone call away!
Michelle Nadeau, Executive Vice President APWU