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  5. What Every Workplace Representative Needs To Get To Know
  1. Home
  2. Knowledge Base
  3. Local Union Presidents and VP's
  4. Stewards Guide
  5. What Every Workplace Representative Needs To Get To Know
  • Know your collective agreement. Always keep a copy with you. You need to know it, if you want to apply it. Start by becoming familiar with stat holidays, wages, and seniority provisions. Be familiar with the grievance procedure and timelines. Since no contract is perfect, understand where it is weak, and keep track of this for discussions at bargaining. Consult with other stewards and committee people on how the contract works in practice.
  • Know your employer’s policies and workplace rules. Some of these are in the agreement, but there are likely other rules in place.
  • Know our union’s policies and priorities. These have been voted on by our members and it’s our responsibility to uphold them. Unifor policies are posted on our website. Attend Councils and Conventions if you can – as a delegate or observer.
  • Know your local union by-laws. These have been voted on by our members and it’s our responsibility to uphold them.
  • Know your members. You need to know their names, addresses, telephone numbers, and seniority. You can also become familiar with the issues in their work areas, as well as the issues they care about in their communities. Get to know key union supporters, critics, as well as the uncommitted. Seek the support of those who have opposed you. Get the best and the brightest and most forceful members onto your team. Turn their talents to the support of the union’s program.
  • Know your managers and supervisors. Getting to know who you are dealing with is important. It’s also helpful to understand their level of authority, and to get a sense of their personality. You will need to
    develop working relationships with them in order to do your job.
  • Know the legislation that affects your members. Labour law and human rights laws are “written into” our collective agreements. As a union we are also responsible for upholding these laws. Many of them are to our advantage, and we can rely upon them in grievances (right up through arbitration). Most provincial and federal labour and human rights laws are outlined on their websites. Try to stay current.
  • Know other officers and other Unifor stewards in your local. Nobody goes it alone. You need the support and wisdom of another set of eyes on a problem – and they need support from you too. Only by acting collectively will we build a strong union. Through your local chairperson you also have the support of your Unifor National Representative.
  • Know your workplace issues and conditions. Keep your ear to the ground, look for patterns of problems, and spend time with your members. Keep an eye out for unsafe work practices. Eat lunch with co-workers, drop by their work stations when you can, see for yourself, and listen, listen, listen.
  • Know the duty of fair representation. Understand our roles and our responsibilities, so that you can fulfill them to the best of your ability. Commit to due diligence.
  • Know something about arbitration. Understanding where a grievance can end up helps us conduct investigations that are thorough and timely, and helps remind us of the importance of documentation. Preparing a case ‘as if’ it were going to arbitration may help us settle it in the early stages – and, if it doesn’t it will certainly make for a stronger case at the end of the day.
  • Know yourself. Recognizing your own strengths and limitations will allow you to draw on what you do well, and will help you figure out when it’s time to get support. We all need support.

DOWNLOAD THE STEWARDS GUIDE IN PDF FORMAT

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