Thursday, February 16, 2017

How Do I Become a Steward?

A Steward is one of the most important positions within our Organizing Model Union. Instead of a Union Staff Person you as Steward are the face of our Union in the workplace. You, as a co-worker become the go to person for contract questions and, when needed, representation when a co-worker faces disciplinary action.  Less spoken about are the leadership and problem solving abilities you bring to the workplace.  Because you are in the workplace you may be able guide a co-worker going the wrong way and avoid supervisor to employee discipline.

How do I become a Steward?  Basically if you are going to be the employee leader, you need to be elected by the employees that you will lead.  At our October 2014 Statewide meeting in The Dalles our Bylaws were changed to be clear on this, also adding language on training and possible removal.  Below is the wording from our by-laws and if you have questions your elected Statewide Forestry leadership or SEIU 503 Forestry Local organizer Mike Bray can provide guidance.
From the November 1, 2014 Forestry629 blog post:

Change in By-Laws, How Stewards Are Chosen and How They Can Be Removed: Our By-Laws, last revised in 2012, did not have much about Stewards which these changes should correct.  The proposal was discussed, changed, adopted and is presented here:

Section 4. Union Stewards.  Union Stewards shall attend steward meetings; handle grievances through the steps within the agency; work closely with the Union Organizer in the handling and investigation of grievances; serve as a main communication channel between Union leaders and staff; is a primary provider of direct services to the Local members.

Stewards will be chosen from the work unit they seek to represent as defined by the collective bargaining agreement between SEIU 503 and the State of Oregon.  The nominee must be a union member and the work unit have an un-filled Steward position available. An announcement of the Steward election shall be posted for at least 10 calendar days, in a public place like the Union Bulletin Board specifying the candidate's name and date and time of the
election.  At the time of the election, prior to voting, there will be a call for other candidates and the voting will be by secret ballot.

The newly selected Steward shall inform the Forestry Local President and SEIU 503 Statewide Forestry Organizer of their selection and meet training requirements as set forth in SEIU 503 by-laws within one calendar year.

Stewards may only be removed from their position by the Local's elected leadership following this process.  Five members who are represented by Steward may petition the Local's leadership to remove their Steward.  Local leadership will consider the petitioner's request using the following criteria:
Stewards activity in the Local; if training requirements were met and if there was continued training; and the testimony of the petitioners and Steward.  Steward removal requires an affirmative vote to remove by at least three members of the Local's Statewide Officers.

Sitting Stewards are encouraged to re-establish their position on a season by season basis.

Representation When a Steward is Not Available:  The primary source for employee representation in the workplace is the Steward.  When a Steward is not available the person seeking representation should contact the next closest (adjacent) District and failing that the SEIU 503 Member Resource Center. If a Steward cannot be identified the Vice President should be contacted.