NATIONAL POSTAL MAIL HANDLERS UNION,

AFL-CIO,

A Division of the Laborers'
International Union of North America

LOCAL 308

SERVING DELAWARE, NEW JERSEY and PENNSYLVANIA

                   

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Steward Tips

Archive Page for Sammy's Tips for Stewards

Tip #1 - Willingness to deal with BUREAUCRACY
Tip #2 - A stewards ten commandments
Tip #3 - Duty of the Employer to Furnish Information
Tip #4 - Do not Represent Unfairly or Unequally
                                Tip #5 - On a day-to-day basis, workers have a right to expect the union steward to
                                Tip #6 - Your legal rights "Equality"
                                Tip #7 - Saying "NO" to a grievant

                                   Tip # 7 - SAYING "NO" TO A GRIEVANT

"There are plenty of times when there's a real problem, but it's not with the contract or management - it's with the grievant. Most stewards say the toughest task is dealing with members who believe they have a legitimate grievance, but investigation shows they really don't.

In this case you have to talk to the worker. You have to discuss the results of your investigation; make it clear that the problem is not a grievance, and why it is not; and offer suggestions for resolving the problem.

Be prepared for the workers strong emotions. Put yourself in his shoes. He feels wronged, victimized, possible angry, frightened or demeaned. And when informed that it's not a grievance, he is likely also to be angry or frustrated at you and at the union.

It can be hard to say no, but there are ways to make the experience less painful for everyone concerned."

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Tip #6 - YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS "EQUALITY"

"Under the NLRA stewards and union officers have a protected legal status. This means that when engaged in representational activities, stewards and union officers are considered to be equals with management. Behavior that could otherwise result in discipline must be tolerated. The National Labor Relations Board describes the equality rule this way: The relationship at a grievance meeting is not a "master-servant" relationship but a relationship between company advocates on one side and union advocates on the other side, engaged as equal opposing parties in litigation.

The equality rule is consistent with declarations of the United States Supreme Court, which has said the NLRA, the nations primary labor law, protects "robust debate" and "gives a union license to use intemperate, abusive, or insulting language without fear of restraint or penalty if it believes such rhetoric to be an effective means to make its point."

The equality rule allows a steward to raise his voice, gesture, use "salty" language, challenge managements claims of truthfulness, threaten legal action or raise the possibility of group protests. Vigorous advocacy may not always be necessary, but when it is used, an employer cannot label it as insubordination and impose discipline."

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Tip #5 - ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS, WORKERS HAVE A RIGHT TO EXPECT THE UNION STEWARD TO

And in every encounter, workers have every right to be treated fairly and without discrimination based on race, sex, ethnic background or union membership. In open-shop situations, you must represent members and nonmembers in grievances. It's the law.

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Tip #4 - Do not Represent Unfairly or Unequally

"Not only does it expose the union to legal action, it's just not the right thing to do. It undermines the whole purpose of the union and the very idea of UNION SOLIDARITY. Remember the old union motto: An injury to one is an injury to all. "

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Tip #3 - Duty of the Employer to Furnish Information

"The NLRB has long held that part of the duty to bargain in good faith is the duty on the part of the employer to supply the union, upon request, with sufficient information to enable the union to understand and intelligently discuss the issues raised. The information demanded must be relevant to the issues involved in the dispute. The Supreme Court has stated that:"

"The duty to furnish the union with information does not terminate with the signing of the collective bargaining agreement, but continues throughout the life of the agreement so far as necessary to enable the parties to administer the contract and resolve grievances or disputes."

As a steward, you may request information when:

For more information on your rights for information refer to Article 17, and 31 of our National Agreement.

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Tip #2 - A STEWARD'S TEN COMMANDMENTS

Regardless of the attitudes of others, you'll need to conduct yourself in a forthright and positive manner. That's why it helps to study some of the basic rules of stewardship - call them the Steward's Ten Commandments. Admittedly, these are not divinely inspired or written, but they deserve to be taken as gospel. They go like this.

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Tip #1 - Willingness to deal with BUREAUCRACY

The contract specifies procedures and timelines you must use. Management will have an additional set of procedures that they want used. Then there's Form A and Form B and Form XYZ.

And then this supervisor has to check with that supervisor who has to check with those supervisors...and get back to you.

This is probably the least palatable of your tasks. But you must be willing to learn to deal with red tape-with the goal of using it, cutting through it or going around it to the union's advantage.

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