Ten Tips For Stewards


  1. Always speak with new employees. The union's best opportunity for finding and keeping new members is one-on-one contact with a steward. Besides giving new workers information, build a personal relationship with them and include them in union activities from the outset.
  2. Don't be too quick to judge. Do not pass judgment on a grievance until a thorough investigation has been completed. Wait to make a decision until after you have talked to the grievant and witnesses, consulted the contract and examined the employer's rules and past practices.
  3. Stay on schedule. Adhere to the grievance schedule stated in the contract. If an extension is necessary, get the employer's permission in writing.
  4. Get settlements in writing. Putting grievance settlements in writing helps to clarify the issue and keep the deal alive.
  5. Never meet alone with management. Discussions and meetings with management alone arouse suspicion among members, allow management the opportunity to change its story and cheat the grievant out of participating in a vital union activity.
  6. Stick to the point. In a grievance meeting, keep focused on the grievance at hand. Far too often, management will attempt to sidetrack a steward by talking about topics that are unrelated to the grievance. Respectfully but firmly remind management of the purpose of the meeting.
  7. Don't make back-room deals. Avoid secretly trading grievances with management; every member is entitled to a fair hearing.
  8. Always present fairly. Not giving an aggrieved member fair treatment makes the union vulnerable to a lawsuit for breach of its fair representation duty and undermines the whole purpose of the union and the very idea of solidarity.
  9. Publicize victories. Publicizing every victory helps to build a local union and boosts members' morale.
  10. Organize, organize, organize. Stewards are the central figures for mobilizing the members. With each grievance, stewards need to think about how it can be used to increase participation, build the union and create new leaders.