Shop Stewards

  ALL Units - Shop Steward Elections:

There is always a need for Shop Stewards in all Units. Shop Lists Nominating forms , and instructions  can be downloaded here . For details and more information, contact the Executive Board Representative for your Unit. More information on the duties of Shop Stewards and training information can be found on this web page.

"Weingarten Rights"

"If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions, I respectfully request that my union representative, officer, or steward be present at this meeting. Without representation present, then...

I choose not to participate in this discussion."


Look for the union label


... excerpt from the Steward's Handbook

For many members, the Steward is the face of the union. The Steward is the visible presence of the union in the workplace as the union officer who works with and interacts with the members at the workplace and represents them in a specific work area. The Steward enforces the collective agreement and protects the rights members have acquired through negotiations and other union actions. Stewards are elected within the Local.

The Steward is not alone in the Local. Along with other Stewards, they form the "CWA Stewards' Army." The Stewards' Army gives the union its strength and puts the union on an equal level with management. 

As a Steward, you are the officer who acts as the liaison between the Local President and the membership. It is your job to make sure the members you represent at the worksite know what the union and the Local are doing and it is also your job to make sure the union and the Local know how the members you represent feel on any subject.

The Steward is a key person in the union and it is within your power to ensure your Local is strong, representative, and successful in protecting membership rights.

The Steward's Job

The Steward's most important job is to solve problems which arise at the worksite. But a union is more than "grievances and complaints" and the Steward must be more than a "grievance and complaints" processor.

In carrying out your duties as a Steward you come in contact with people - workers / members, supervisors, and management. In the Local, you will work with other Stewards, the Chief Steward, and the Local President.

Here are some suggestions which will help you as a person and as a Steward in all your daily contacts with people:

  • Be Fair: listening to all points of view carefully;

  • Be Friendly: prepared to listen to the members' complaints, problems and successes;

  • Be involved: work with people on their problems;

  • Be Enthusiastic: able to involve people in the union because of your own involvement;

  • Be Courageous: knowing when to tell members they are wrong and saying so (politely);  standing up to management when the union has a point to be made;

  • Be Efficient and Effective: securing the facts and seeking justice in a fair manner with the least delay possible;

  • Be Knowledgeable: knowing and understanding the collective agreement, the acts and regulations, the NABET-CWA Constitution and the Local By-laws;  knowing about your union, its resources and how it works: knowing and understanding the members and supervisors as individuals.

What You Need To Do

Be an Organizer

Your goal should be to get every member you deal with at the worksite to be members in good standing in the union by having them sign their membership card.

When a new worker starts, introduce yourself and the union on the first day. Explain what the union is and how it operates. Introduce them to other members of the union. Have the new worker sign their membership card on the first day on the job.

Develop membership participation in their union by encouraging attendance at Local meetings and by encouraging the members you represent at the worksite to volunteer to sit on Local Committees. Help to establish a committee on an issue of interest and importance to some of the members.

Know who is who at the worksite, their membership standing, their interests, and their objections to the union, if any.

Remember, being friendly makes friends.

Be an Educator

Talk about what your Local is doing and explain why they are doing it. Discuss union issues with the members.

Provide the members at the worksite with union publications, such as the NABET Signal, Collective Bargaining Updates, Women's Committee and Committee on Equity Newsletters, Health and Safety Newsletters, and Local publications.

Inform members about upcoming seminars, training, and union activities.

Attend union courses yourself and share the knowledge with the members.

Know how government policies and legislation affect you as a citizen, a taxpayer, a worker, and as a union member. Share this information with your members.

Encourage participation in committees and various community campaigns that affect members as unionists, workers, and part of the community.

Be a Communicator

Make sure everyone reads notices on the bulletin boards and are informed about management's plans and decisions and their new policies.

Refer members to the appropriate community social service agency. Know what services are provided and be ready to refer your members to the right person or agency.

Listen to the problems which concern your members and be prepared to listen to personal success stories. If you are interested in the members as individuals they will be interested in you, and through you, the union.

Be a Leader

Talk to all the members you represent, discuss issues with them, ask for their advice.

Don't be afraid to speak on behalf of the members in your worksite.

Act promptly, decisively and keep your word.

Be a Problem Solver

You are the union representative at the worksite and, therefore, you will be the person approached by the membership when they have a problem on the job.

It is important that complaints and grievances be handled by you, the Steward, so you are aware of problems as they arise in the workplace.

As a Steward you are not expected to know all the answers immediately, but you are expected to find the answers. You learn your job through study, practice, and discussion with the Chief Steward and more experienced Stewards. You learn by reading past grievances and adjudication/arbitration cases, since it is important to know not only what the contract contains, but also how it is interpreted.

When you find the answer through discussion and reading, go back to the worksite and fight the case yourself. By doing so you will gain the confidence and respect of your members and of management.

What You Need To Know

  1. The Collective Agreement:  Have your own copy of your collective agreement and read it from cover to cover. Discuss the collective agreement with other Stewards and officers so you know how it is interpreted. Read over past grievances to find out how the clauses have been interpreted and what the precedent cases are.
  2. Know management policies and directives. Watch bulletin boards and read all the notices.
  3. Labor Legislation:  Have a basic understanding of the federal, state, and local labor legislation which applies to your members.
  4. Present Working Conditions:  Know your work area and how things should be working. Be aware of conditions that may result in management's violation of clauses in your collective agreement, or of safety regulations. Do something about it before an accident occurs.
  5. Supervisors:  Get to know your supervisors and how they manage.
  6. Members:  Talk to the members you represent and get to know them as individuals. Ask about their jobs and where they fit in the organizational chart.
  7. Local Union Activities and By-Laws:  Attend Local Unit meetings, Executive Board meetings, and Shop Stewards' meetings. Listen to what is being said. Know your Local By-laws and keep your own copy.

Now, sit back and relax. No one expects you to learn all this information today, or even tomorrow. A basic understanding of the issues at hand and a growing expertise as you perform your job is what is required.

Remember:  If you don't know the answer just say so, the important part is that you find the answer through asking questions yourself and that you get back to the member in a reasonable period of time with the information.

What You Need To Have

In order to perform your job well you will need your "tools" with you. Have a place at work where you will have ready access to:

  1. Your Collective Agreement:  Having a general knowledge of the contact is necessary, but when answering a question about the contract, you must look at the entire article, word-by-word, its relation to other articles in the contract and its relation to the contract as a whole. You and every member should own a copy of the collective agreement.
  2. Legislation:  Have your own copy of the legislation under which your local is covered and learn a basic understanding of its content.
  3. A contact list of the Members You Represent:  Their home addresses and phone numbers, their occupational group, the section and division which they come under. It is useful to have an organizational chart of the sections and divisions you represent.
  4. Membership Applications: As a union organizer, you will want to be prepared when new workers start to work in your area.
  5. Steward Fact Sheets, Pencils, and Paper:  When you are approached with a request, complaint, grievance, or appeal, get the information down on the Steward Fact Sheet immediately. Don't rely on your memory or the member's memory for details. Ensure that you have a good supply of the Steward Fact Sheets on hand.
  6. Grievance Forms and Transmittal Forms:  These are available anytime from the Local Office. Time limits have a habit of running out on you before you know it. Be prepared. If a form is not in use or is not available, a letter is equally valid. Get the information down and quickly refer the member who wishes to file a grievance to the appropriate union representative. Time limits run out on you very quickly.
  7. A Contact List of Your Local Officers:  With their addresses and phone numbers at home and at work.
  8. A Contact List of Stewards in Your Local:  With their addresses and phone numbers at home and at work.
  9. A Contact List of Resource People:  In your community, with addresses and phone numbers, as well as a brief description of the services they provide.

Last, but not least - The CWA Steward's Handbook.

January 2005 Shop Steward's Class 

August 2004 Shop Steward's Class