Shop stewards are an integral part of any Local. Whether it is voicing the membership’s interests in a labour-management meeting or sitting in on a grievance, stewards have the power to transform a collective agreement from a mere piece of paper into a living protection of the rights of fellow members in the workplace.
Roles of a Shop Steward:
- Represent and protect workers
- Know and monitor the contract
- Problem solve on the job
- Attend union meetings
- Handle grievances
- Be the link between workers and management
- Meet and greet new members
- Organize internally
- Keep members informed
- Be a good listener
- Be an effective communicator
- Be aware of job openings
- Combat anti-union feelings
- Attend educational classes
What is a Grievance?
When a member comes to you with a problem, you have to determine what it is you are dealing with. Is it a grievance or a complaint that needs to be handled another way? Ask yourself:
- Does it violate a provision in the collective agreement?
- Is it a wrong interpretation of the collective agreement?
- Does it violate a provincial or federal law?
- Does it violate a past practice?
- Does it violate worker or union rights?
If the problem doesn’t fit one of these criteria, then it is a complaint rather than a grievance, which may require some other union action or involvement.