Guide to Effective Leadership
"One who manages the domestic concerns of a family or
institution…One who superintends another's affairs…One who helps in
arrangements…Marshaling…An overseer… A foreman." Webster
Our focus is to give assistance to our hundreds of shop stewards who are
helping hundreds and thousands of union members throughout Local 77. We
tip our union hats to you who serve your co-workers and this office. You
accepted the burdens of workplace leadership. A position that is fraught
with anxiety and frustration but without glory, but is also a position
that can be truly gratifying as you help and assist your coworkers. That
alone is our reward for serving the membership.
Your position is a day-to-day activity of membership contact within your
shop. Uniquely, by this position you have the opportunity to be on top
of most situations that occur whether it is the company violating the
contract or whether the Union business agent is unavailable to be there
Most members look first to their steward. You are most often available
on a daily basis, you have frequent and direct contact with your union
office and usually you have been in bargaining and understand intimately
the essence of the contract language. Whether you are a new steward or
one with years of true experience you have a lot of people relying on
you to protect their interests and to enforce their labor agreement.
As a steward you have distinct ROLES to fulfill:
* Problem Solver
Problem Solver - Each of these roles
dictates a level of commitment that you have taken on to be an effective
steward. The problems that you encounter are not always related to your
current work situation or your labor agreement. Often, a member may have
an interpersonal problem that requires assistance by outside experts.
You need to know where and to whom to refer your co-worker for the type
of help that they may need. Our resource network is useful here so
become familiar with its listings.
Leader - As a leader it is understood that
to lead by example is the most valid way to receive the respect of you
co-worker. Whether it is in the quality of work that you personally
perform or the willingness to take on a problem for the member and
working it through the grievance procedure with your employer. The
giving of your time and lending a caring ear will earn you miles of
dividends from the member.
Communicator - Communicating is critical.
As your business agent strives to make regular plant visitations for the
purpose of knowing the membership, so too is it important that you keep
in touch with the different members working in your building. During
negotiations and while processing a grievance, it is a particularly
critical time for communications. Updating the members as to the
bargaining process and status of his/her grievance is vital and
expected. Introducing yourself to new members is the first chance to
provide that individual with a proper introduction to the union. You are
the welcoming liaison for new employees to their union.
Educator - As an educator, you will find it
powerfully persuasive to greet your new members as well as current
members with the information that they can relate to. Most often our
stewards have been with the company for many years. During this time
they have seen and been involved with a great many matters. Such matters
can be spoken to with great validity since you lived through changes,
grievances and of course bargaining. Be generous with your knowledge,
but do so unobtrusively and with humility.
Organizer - As an organizer, you will find
need to do internal as well as external organizing. Internally, it is
necessary for the members to reflect a solidarity in the eyes of the
employer, an image that shows that the union is alive and well in their
employees. A united front is always the only true way to impose your
desires on the employer. You know the different types of power.
(Perceived Power, Believed Power and True Power) The behavior in the
workplace strongly suggests to the company that we take care and look
out for each other so beware! "Social Signal", that component of
behavior or dress that shouts solidarity without speaking a single word.
This might be the wearing of our Teamsters buttons, hats or jackets.
Externally, each and everyone of us needs to be on the alert for good
sound leads that we can use to introduce our union to the non-union
elements around us. Often, our members know a friend or relative who
works non-union. As the non-union company competes with our union
facilities, they can't help but to undermine our wage and benefits
levels. Our union rates are much higher than non-union firms as a rule
and consequently, non-union firms undercut our companies with lower bids
on goods and services that they supply in direct competition with you.
Stewards Role in Filing Grievances
You most likely will be called upon to file periodic grievances. This
right is to be protected but not abused and good judgment should be
exercised in applying our responsibilities of providing due process. To
help assess the validity of a potential grievance consider the following
"Just Cause" standards.
Seven Key Tests to Just Cause:
The basic elements of just cause which different arbitrators have
emphasized have been reduced by Arbitrator Carroll R. Daugherty to seven
tests. These tests, in the form of questions, represent the most
specifically articulated analysis of the just cause standard as well as
an extremely practical approach.
A "no" answer to one or more of the questions means that just cause
either was not satisfied or at least was seriously weakened in that some
arbitrary, capricious, or discriminatory element was present.
1. NOTICE: "Did the Employer give to the
employee forewarning or foreknowledge of the possible consequences of
the employee's disciplinary conduct?"
2. REASONABLE RULE OR ORDER: "Was the
Employer's rules or managerial order reasonably related to (a) the
orderly, efficient, and safe operation of the Employer's business, and
(b) the performance that the Employer might properly expect of the
3. INVESTIGATION: "Did the Employer, before
administering the discipline to an employee, make an effort to discover
whether the employee did in fact violate or disobey a rule or order of
4. FAIR INVESTIGATION: "Was the Employer's
investigation conducted fairly and objectively?"
5. PROOF: "At the investigation, did the
'judge' obtain substantial evidence or proof that the employee was
guilty as charged?"
6. EQUAL TREATMENT: "Has the Employer
applied its rules, orders and penalties even-handedly and without
discrimination to all employees?"
7. PENALTY: "Was the degree of discipline
administered by the Employer in a particular case reasonably related to
(a) the seriousness of the employee's proven offense, and (b) the record
of the employee in his service with the Employer?"
The Stewards Role
Take note of the basics when investigating a grievance. Ask the 6 W's:
Timing is everything. The sooner you look into a matter the fresher it
will be in everyone's mind. Being on top of things and moving quickly to
gather information is a virtue, but not however at the expense of
thoroughness. Be detailed as you look into the concerns of the member.
Who are the individuals involved in the case. Write them down and gather
statements from them as appropriate. First hand information is strong,
second hand information is weak by comparison. What exactly occurred?
Remember, often times emotion will cloud the issue so take time and get
the details and repeat them back for clarity. See what other members
know about the case. Where the violation or infraction occurred is
sometimes persuasive so be detailed. When will be important for a couple
of reasons. First of all the sooner we gather information the more
accurate it typically will be. But more importantly, we need to watch
the time elements contained within our labor agreements. These time
elements require certain processing steps in order to properly move the
grievance along and if we fail to watch those time elements we could
lose the right to grieve all together.
* NEVER REFUSE TO FILE A GRIEVANCE
* WHEN IN DOUBT FILE
* IF SHORT TIME PERIODS REMAIN - HAND-CARRY THE GRIEVANCE TO MANAGEMENT
Determine why the grievance or event occurred and if appropriate what
provisions of the labor agreement are violated. If no contract provision
is obvious you can file anyway by explaining the concern itself.
Interview all known witnesses as soon as possible and record their
statements. Listen more than you talk and repeat back to the witness and
grievant what you understand them saying.
Not all grievance matters are contract violations. Sometimes there might
be a violation of a company policy, state, federal or municipal law,
past practice, or a consequence of disparate treatment.
In most grievance matters our stewards and the grievant are encouraged
to have a preliminary discussion with the first level of management to
determine if they understand the concerns or alleged violation of either
party. If this is unsuccessful then a more formal step is to follow.