August 23, 2017
The Role of the Union Leader/Steward

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As a Union leader, you are Local 8’s representative in the workplace. To many of your co-workers, you are the Union, just as to many workers the supervisor is the organization. For many members, you may be their only contact with Local 8.

A Union Leader must be an organizer, an educator, a mobilizer, a sounding board, a communicator and a defender of the workers’ rights on the job.
 
What a Union Leader Needs to Know
 
KNOW THE CONTRACT
  • What is says, what it means, how it works
  • Where to find key provisions
  • How to get Contracts into the hands of members
  • How the Contract protects you and your co-workers
  • Examine based on your experiences, be prepared to recommend changes
KNOW THE GRIEVANCE PROCESS
  • Explore ways to settle problems without having to file a grievance
  • Know the where to find the grievance process described in the Contract
  • Follow the procedures carefully and be aware especially of timelines
KNOW THE EMPLOYER’S POLICIES/RULES
  • Watch bulletin boards and other places notices are posted
  • Read the organization’s newsletters, emails and other communications
  • Have a current copy of the Employee and/or Employer Policies & Procedures
  • Know about any statutory rules/regulations impacting your industry
KNOW YOUR CO-WORKERS
  • Learn about their work and working conditions
  • Know the various departments, job classifications and other details of the sites
  • Keep an up-to-date email or phone list of co-workers to more easily mobilize
  • Know your fellow Union Leaders (or potential) Leaders
KNOW LOCAL 8’S POLICIES/BY-LAWS
  • Know Local 8’s Constitution and By-Laws
  • Know Local 8’s policies that impact the Membership
  • Know how the Union works
KNOW LOCAL 8’S PROGRAMS/ACTIVITIES
  • Where and when the Chapter Meetings and Assemblies takes place
  • Read Local 8 Journal
  • Check on the www.opeiu8.org website
  • Learn about Local 8 Committees
KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE WORLD
  • Subscribe to the Washington State Labor Councils Report (www.wslc.org and it’s free) to get daily updates from compiled labor-related stories from around the country.
 What a Union Leader Needs to Do
  • Attend Chapter Meetings and Assemblies to find out what’s happening and to participate in Union decisions.
  • Distribute Union Updates and other Union information.
  • Listen to what members have to say and follow-up on issues.
  • Hold regular meetings, even if it’s just an informal brownbag get-together over lunch or coffee.
  • Talk to everyone in your work area at least every few weeks to ensure you’re on top of the issues.
  • If you see a violation of the Contract or an injustice in the workplace, act on it—don’t wait for someone to complain. 
  • Represent all members fairly. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the law. 
  • Communicate with your staff Union Representative when you need help and support.