Steward Job Description
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You are the first person that members in your assigned area contact for information about the workplace and SGEU, and for help solving workplace issues. Under the guidance of your chief steward, you work collectively with other stewards, elected leaders, and SGEU staff in your workplace, bargaining unit, and sector.
- Enforce the collective agreement by identifying violations, investigating complaints, and meeting with management to solve problems or file grievances.
- Deal with harassment and other conflicts in the workplace.
- Identify future collective agreement proposals.
Be a Sounding Board
- Listen to members’ concerns while maintaining confidentiality.
- Empower members to help themselves by providing them with information and support.
- Provide information on programs available to members through the union and employer, such as Workers’ Compensation, Long-Term Disability, and Employee & Family Assistance Plans.
- Answer questions about your collective agreement.
- Inform members (both face-to-face and in meetings) of workplace issues and what SGEU is doing to address them.
- Inform members (both face-to-face and in meetings) of issues and actions affecting them in the union and community.
- Be familiar with your workplace and your members.
- Welcome and orient new employees.
- Advise other elected SGEU leaders of issues and developments in your workplace.
- Mobilize members to take part in proposals gathering, collective-bargaining support activities, internal union meetings and elections, and other union campaigns.
- Support the membership in providing relevant changes in work and personal data to SGEU Membership Records.
(The blend of duties and level of responsibility may vary, depending on the structure of your workplace, bargaining unit, and sector.)
Roles and Responsibilities:
You bring these qualities to the role of steward:
- Take initiative to learn and understand relevant grievance procedures.
- Follow through on tasks and commitments to members.
- Keep members’ information confidential (except in discussions with the chief steward or as required in the grievance process).
- Willing to complete Union Leadership Development training (ULD 10, 20, 30).
- Listen effectively.
- Care about the well-being of others.
SGEU will provide education and support so you can:
- Actively challenge inappropriate or harassing behaviour in the workplace and not take part in it.
- Be familiar with the collective agreement, workplace policies and procedures, SGEU policies, Steward Manual, and union resource people.
- Speak out when members’ rights are harmed.
- Research complaints, questions, and workplace issues, and weigh conflicting information.
- Present an argument clearly, assertively, and respectfully.
- Follow SGEU’s Code of Conduct for Elected Officers and the Statement of Equality.
- Listen effectively.
- Take and maintain clear records.
- Believe in the trade union movement.
- Stewards are elected to a two-year term. Some duties can be performed on work time or are compensated by the union. Stewards may be required to perform other tasks on their own time.
- Stewards’ rights and union activity are protected by law and your collective agreement. Some employers may try to challenge your role, but other stewards, your chief steward, your Agreement Administration Advisor, and the larger union are there for advice and support.
- It’s a rewarding experience to help others and be part of a larger union family.
(Approved by Provincial Council April 2009)
Chief Steward Job Description
You are a workplace leader representing SGEU, co-ordinating stewards, and enforcing the collective bargaining agreement. You work collectively with stewards, elected leaders, and SGEU staff in your workplace, bargaining unit, and sector. As chief steward, you fulfill the duties of a steward, but also work with other stewards in your zone to do the following:
- Encourage stewards to approach you first with questions about processes and contract interpretation and with reports of workplace conflicts and issues (rather than going directly to the AAA).
- Advise stewards and members about union activities and advise bargaining unit and sector leaders about workplace developments.
- Ensure new-member orientations are occurring as needed.
- Inform stewards and members of changes in the collective agreement or interpretation, and of relevant arbitration decisions.
- Be accessible to your stewards by telephone or in person.
- Assign complaints and grievances to stewards in your zone, taking into account:
- Stewards’ specialized knowledge
- The chance for new stewards to gain experience
- The need to prevent steward burn-out
- Members’ right to the steward of their choice shall be adhered to.
- Assist stewards, as needed, in writing and investigating grievances properly and in judging whether a complaint is a grievance.
- In communications with AAA, keep track of filed grievances, to ensure that they are moving through the process in a timely fashion and that necessary tasks are completed.
- Educate stewards about the grievance and appeal processes, including about the need to discuss potential grievances with you first before filing.
- Ensure contract enforcement by:
- Not agreeing to any deals that violates the collective agreement or other rights in statute
- Challenging violations of collective-agreement and other rights in statute
- Promote maximum involvement by members in union activities, especially including collective bargaining
- Delegate duties to stewards (and panel reps where relevant)
- Call and chair regular steward meetings to strategize, share information, identify best practices, and review grievance and other workplace issues
- Chair other meetings when necessary, such as membership or union-management committee
- Assist in resolving conflicts between members or between members and the employer.
- Be knowledgeable about both workplace and union harassment policies and procedures.
- Encourage stewards to talk to you when they encounter harassment in the union or in the workplace and work with stewards to resolve the problem.
- Hold regular meetings of all stewards. Topics should include current workplace issues, barriers facing equity-group stewards, discrimination/harassment of stewards and in the workplace, and strategies to address issues.
- Work to dispel, not encourage, rumours.
- Actively recruit new stewards with the goal of achieving a representative steward body in SGEU.
Mentoring & Training
- Ensure you are familiar with your collective agreement, related legislation, workplace policies and procedures, SGEU policies, Steward Manual, and union resource people.
- Complete training as set out in SGEU policy.
- Orient new stewards and support them to meet the expectations set out in the steward job description.
Provide or arrange mentoring for new stewards
- Encourage stewards to take appropriate training, such as ULD 10, ULD 11, ULD 20, ULD 30, and conflict-resolution.
- Update stewards about education opportunities.
- Encourage stewards to set appropriate limits to prevent stress and burn-out.
- Ensure elections are held for stewards and OH & S committee.
- Ensure that stewards are being registered with SGEU Membership Records after each election.
- Ensure distribution and posting of union information within your zone.
(Approved by Provincial Council, December 2009)