Welcome to Steward’s Corner! The job of a shop steward is extremely important. Without you, our Union wouldn’t be able to function.
Click the links below to learn more about the responsibilities of a shop steward, as well as other interesting and valuable information about life in a Union shop.
The Role of a Shop Steward:
1. KNOW THE CONTRACT
In order to perform your job effectively, you will need to be very familiar with your Teamster contract. You don’t need to have it memorized, but you do need to know:
– The broad strokes: what the contract says, what it means, and how it works
– Where to look within the Contract to find specific information that you need
– How to get copies of the Contract to the members
– How the Contract protects you and your coworkers
– What changes you might recommend for next time based on your experiences
2. KNOW THE EMPLOYER
You are the “boots on the ground” in your place of work on a day-to-day basis. It is important that you:
– Watch bulletin boards and other places that your employer may post notices
– Read your employer’s newsletters, emails, and other communications
– Keep a current copy of the Employee Handbook outlining policies and procedures
– Know about any statutory rules and regulations impacting your industry
3. KNOW YOUR COWORKERS
Once again, you are the eyes and ears of the Local in your workplace every day. As much as possible, strive to:
– Learn about your coworkers’ jobs and working conditions
– Know the various departments and job classifications in your workplace
– Keep an up-to-date email or phone list of your coworkers to facilitate contact. If you feel comfortable, add them on Facebook to make it easier to share information about important Teamster meetings and events
– Know your fellow shop stewards and potential leaders
4. KNOW THE GRIEVANCE PROCESS
Filing grievances is mainly the responsibility of the Grievant, but your participation can be instrumental in making the process as smooth and successful as possible. To facilitate this:
– Explore different ways to settle problems without having to file an official grievance
– Know where to find the grievance process in your Contract
– Follow all procedures carefully, especially those related to timelines
5. KNOW LOCAL 174’s POLICIES
– All grievances should be faxed, hand-delivered, or delivered by mail. We do not accept grievances via email due to technical reliability issues.
– As relates to grievance timelines, we track everything by the date received and processed during business hours.
– We do not accept anything delivered via non-union carriers.
6. KNOW LOCAL 174’s EVENTS SCHEDULE
Monthly General Membership Meetings, Demands Meetings, Contract Ratification Votes, Strike Authorization Votes — your support is critical in getting information about these events into the right hands as quickly as possible. Make sure that you:
– Regularly check our website, www.teamsters174.net
– “Like” our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TeamstersLocal174
The Weingarten Meeting
Employees have the right to have a Union representative present when they are called into a meeting with management and they have reason to believe that disciplinary action may result. Your job as a shop steward is to encourage all members to be aware of these so-called “Weingarten Rights”, and to take part in these meetings with management when they occur.
You as a steward can help workers to assert their rights by:
– Helping an employee explain an incident, especially if they are anxious or inarticulate
– Advising an employee against a blanket denial in cases where this would give the appearance of dishonesty and guilt
– Bringing up extenuating circumstances
– Preventing the employee from making “fatal admissions”
– Helping employees keep their cool and avoid losing their tempers
– Serving as a witness to prevent supervisors from giving false accounts of the proceedings
It is important to note that stewards do NOT simply need to be passive observers during an investigatory interview! They can and should take an active role in the proceedings by assisting and counseling the employee.
Stewards’ rights and roles under “Weingarten” include:
– Upon arrival at the meeting, the steward should be briefed by the supervisor on the purpose of the interview
– The steward must be allowed to take the employee aside for a pre-interview conference
– The steward has the right to speak during the interview, though they do not have the right to bargain over the purpose of the meeting
– The steward can ask for clarification of a question
– The steward can counsel the employee on how to answer a question
– They may also provide supplementary information to the supervisor
– Do NOT advise the employee to withhold answers or answer falsely — the worker may be disciplined as a result of such actions
The employer has no obligation to inform employees of their “Weingarten” rights — this is the Union’s job. So make sure your coworkers know to call you before taking part in any disciplinary meetings!
Duty of Fair Representation:
The Union has a duty to represent all employees in a bargaining unit, and may not discriminate for improper reasons such as race, sex, religion, Union activities, or sexual orientation of the Grievant. This applies to shop stewards as well.
However, the Union is allowed by law to make reasoned judgments about the merits of a grievance, to balance the interests of the entire bargaining unit, and to take sides between two members if necessary.
In many cases, before taking disciplinary action, the employer must first meet the standards of “Just Cause”. Here are the seven questions that should be asked in order to establish whether or not the situation meets the standards of Just Cause:
- Was the employee warned in advance that certain behavior could result in discipline?
- Were the employer’s rules reasonably related to the efficient and safe operation of the business?
- Was there an investigation before the discipline?
- Was the investigation conducted fairly?
- Did the investigation turn up substantial evidence of wrongdoing?
- Are the rules enforced uniformly and consistently?
- Does the punishment fit the “crime” and the past record of the employee?