If you are a steward, committee-person, delegate or other union grievance
representative, you are part of an extraordinary group, estimated to number more than 250,000 men and women, in 53,000 local unions across the United States. Union stewards represent departments, shifts, and work sites. They monitor
collective-bargaining agreements, advise employees on contract provisions,
confront employers over safety issues, and represent employees in grievance
A steward's job is important and exciting. You protect jobs and welfare of your fellow employees and use your leadership skills to build the union.
Your position, however, is not without perils. To be effective, you 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 you or impose discipline.
To prevent reprisals -- and to gain management's respect - you must be well
prepared. Your most valuable tools are union solidarity, contract rights and
labor law rights.
A Union Stewards rights are determined by three basic factors:
Union Solidarity. This is the cohesion and determination of employees you
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.
- Steward Guide, Continued...