Your duties as a steward.
No one can list all the different duties you'll be asked to perform. What follows are some of the more important things SEIU stewards do.
Not all stewards do all things. Some unions elect negotiators and stewards separately. Some ask staff reps to handle the final steps of grievances. You'll find these things out as you go along.
You don't have to learn your duties all at once. And you'll have more experienced stewards and staff reps to help you get started.
- Get to know all the workers in your unit.
- Greet new members and help them get oriented.
- Convince workers to join the union.
- Convince workers to join the union. (This is not a misprint.)
- Sign up retiring members.
- Recruit and lead volunteers.
- Play a leading role in unit meetings. Keep the members informed. Help out with balloting, elections, and reports.
- Get committees going and attend committee meetings, guiding them when need be (and when possible).
- Keep updated phone, addresses and email lists of your members.
- Learn all the problems in the workplace.
- Investigate grievances.
- Interview members.
- Write and file grievances.
- Negotiate with management. This can range from informal talks with supervisors to arbitration hearings, formal contract bargaining, and labor/management committee assignments.
- Maintain files and records. (We know it's boring, but it's really important.)
- Keep updated address, phone, and email information on your members.
- Work on contract campaigns.
- Organize rallies, vigils, work actions, petitions, parades, demonstrations, and other activities. Big parades and demonstrations require marshals, and you'll need to keep them briefed. (Wear comfortable shoes. Trust us on this one.)
- Work on newsletters, leaflets, press releases, picket signs, buttons, stickers, bulletin board displays, whatever.
- Attend steward training classes.
- Work on COPE (Committee On Political Education), legislative, and get-out-the-vote activities where permissible. This may involve fund-raising, lobbying, phone banks, polling place duties, and a lot of other things, especially around election time.
- Do a lot of different things with your union' s coalition partners in the community.
- Inspect the worksite for health and safety problems. Know where the OSHA 2000 Log is posted. File federal and state OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) violation reports and accompany inspectors on site visits.
- You don't have to do this all yourself. Don't be shy about asking individual members to help you out. It's one way to get them involved.