Union Stewards, or Representatives, are the front line of our union working everyday as leaders, organizers, educators, problem solvers, activists, intermediaries and communicators. Stewards provide an essential link between union leadership and members, and also serve as vital liaisons between members and management.
Any member can be a union steward. Stewards are a central part of our union organization and provide a great opportunity for any member looking to become more involved in the union and take an active role in representing and defending the interests of fellow employees.
Your Rights as a Union Steward
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) outlines specific protections with regards to stewards while acting in their official union capacity. Union stewards are specifically protected during grievance meetings, investigatory or disciplinary meetings, when requesting information, and during contract negotiations.
Stewards are to be treated as equal to management, with an equal voice at the table and the explicit freedom to exercise the duties of the office without fear of reprimand or retribution of any kind. Union stewards are afforded the following basic rights, which enable them to perform their official duties in the workplace effectively and without obstruction.
- Right to the same union representation as any member
- Right to timely and accurate information
- Right to investigate grievances
- Right to interview witnesses
- Right to make objections and/or caucus during grievance meetings
- No reprisals from management for exercising role as Steward
- Right to TALK about your union at work
- Right to maintain a union bulletin board in your unit
Your Responsibilities as a Union Steward
There are always union leader resources available to you, including stewards from other units.
The first major responsibility of a union steward is to fairly represent your fellow union members. In the event there is a grievance, union stewards act as intermediaries between the aggrieved employee and appropriate management.
Union stewards act as a safe harbor for aggrieved employees to bring their questions and concerns as the first step in the grievance process. Stewards are required to keep any information shared by a grievant personally, or expressed during a grievance meeting, 100% confidential.
The Work of a Union steward:
- Attend a steward training.
- Be available available to co-workers for support and assistance with union, workplace or contract matters.
- Complete grievance forms with the grievant and fax it to the Union Office at 802.658.7673.
- Fax notes from meetings with management to the Union Office at 802.658.7673.
- Maintain and manage a reliable phone and email tree/communications list of your unit.
- Keep your unit bulletin boards updated.
Call the Union Office at 802.657.4040 or email vfnhp @ upvaft [dot] org if you are interested in becoming a union steward and would like to be scheduled a steward training - we will accommodate your schedule if you can't make the monthly training.