Steward’s Job Checklist
____ I take a leadership role in the union and in my work area.
____ I talk about the union with my co-workers.
____ I listen to my co-workers concerns. I solve their problems if I can.
____ I read the things sent to me by the Union, and I discuss them with my co-workers.
____ I treat all employees fairly.
____ I greet new hires, introduce myself as their union steward, and tell them about the union. I ask them to join the union.
____ I talk to every non-member about joining the union.
____ I watch time limits very carefully when handling grievances.
____ I try to settle grievances informally, or at the lowest possible level.
____ I involve my co-workers in solving workplace problems.
____ I tell my co-workers about union accomplishments.
____ I ask union members their opinions about union matters.
____ I encourage union members to attend meetings.
____ I set an example by attending meetings myself.
____ I keep the bulletin board interesting and up-to-date.
____ I study the collective bargaining agreement.
____ I try to gain and nurture the respect of my co-workers.
____ I demonstrate to management that I am their equal.
____ When I have a question or a problem, I consult other stewards, my chapter president, and/or my field representative.
If you are ever called into an interview meeting with your supervisor or manager so they can investigate a situation which might result in discipline, you have specific representational rights. These rights are summarized below:
These rights are called “Weingarten Rights” based on a 1975 Supreme Court decision (NLRB vs. J. Weingarten). As with all rights, if we do not use them we lose them.
This statement could save your job:
“If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated I respectfully request that my steward be present at the meeting. Without representation present, I choose not to respond to any questions or statements.”
Since its inception, SEIU has attracted and retained members through the numerous advantages of unionization. As SEIU has grown, so too has its ability to fight for and win benefits — not only for SEIU’s members, but also for those whom SEIU members serve.
Joining a union is the epitome of strength in numbers, enabling members to not only obtain contracts, but a negotiated compensation package that is fair and equitable. As seen in the first photograph, in 1958, SEIU Local 285 advertised the array of tangible benefits including both higher pay and a variety of insurances available to Boston city employees who joined SEIU (then BSEIU).
In addition to monetary benefits, unionization also offers community, and working together for a greater good. The second photograph depicts Justice for Janitors demonstrators from Local 525 advocating for women’s rights and against sexual harassment. The man on the left holds the sign, “Harassment of women will not be tolerated,” and the man on the right holds the sign “We are fighting for our rights.” These men are fighting for rights that don’t apply directly to them, but for their union sisters, demonstrating that union solidarity benefits all members.
Beyond members, unionization benefits people at large, particularly those served by union members. For the nurses featured in the third photograph, their fight is not for higher pay, but rather for improved working conditions that will directly improve patient care. Similarly, the fourth photograph features Local 29 members proclaiming that they “keep Pittsburgh livable” — a benefit extending beyond union members indeed.
Joining a union, and as history has shown, joining SEIU in particular, directly improves the lives of members and their families through better wages and insurance availability. And through SEIU’s size, members are able to stand together to collectively fight for their own rights and working conditions, which not only helps themselves, but also those they serve
Members of SEIU Local 525 participate in a Justice for Janitors (J4J) demonstration against sexual harassment in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 23, 1988. Photographer: Photo Editor, SEIU Communications
Nurses carry a sign stating, “Money is not the issue, patient care is,” during the Nurse March in Washington, D.C., May 10, 1996. Photographer: Bill Burke/Page One Photo
Demonstrators from SEIU Local 29, several in costume, protest against the Pittsburgh Lockout in 1985. Photographer: Unknown
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