Role of the Shop Steward
A Good Listener
No problem or idea can be solved or considered unless it is accurately understood. Good listening skills are necessary as the first step in addressing any problem or idea. Stewards must practice and develop good listening skills in order to be successful. Remember: You have two ears, but only one mouth... listen and understand before opening your mouth.
A Problem Solver
When members have a problem, they bring it to their shop steward. Some problems are job related; others are not. The steward helps the member and others who may be affected to identify possible solutions and work for necessary changes.
Teamster members look to stewards for knowledge, experience and guidance.
Stewards are the key point of contact between Teamster members and their Union leaders.
Teamster stewards help members understand how to use and interpret the contract, participate in unions event and learn about broader issues that affect them their communities.
Stewards help Local Union officials organize members to participate in activities designed to improve conditions on the job and our communities.
These activities may include...
• Welcoming new employees
• Winning and enforcing contract rights and benefits
• Increasing unity among the members' encouraging more workers to join the Teamsters
• Increasing participation in union meetings
• Supporting Teamster legislative campaigns to benefit working people
• Increasing contributions to DRIVE, the Teamsters political action fund in the United States
• Supporting Teamster efforts to build alliances with community organizations on common goals.
Steward Record Keeping The importance of keeping records cannot be over-emphasized, particularly for three reasons:
1. For Contract Purposes - keeping records of the problems that employees bring may show you a pattern of contract language that is perhaps unclear, or management may be interpreting it in a fashion that is adverse to the employees. By keeping "tabs" the steward can ensure that this problem is brought up in the next negotiations.
2. For Grievance Purposes - keeping records may assist you in tracking acts of harassment or discrimination by certain supervisors or in ensuring equal discipline for all employees. More on Grievances:
3. For Duty of Fair Representation Purposes - by keeping records of contracts and discussions with employees, noting the names, dates and subject matter, you will be able to defend yourself if you are ever accused of failing to act on behalf of an employee.