A Teamsters 987 Shop Steward’s job is to lead, organize, and educate within their workplace. You are the first point of contact whenever an employee has an issue with their supervisor. You are a representative for the union on the job and a leader within your workplace. You work on behalf of union members to ensure their concerns are heard, and in doing so, help establish better workplace environments. Being a Shop Steward also comes with a lot of responsibility. Here are some of our top tips to keep in mind while working as a Shop Steward in your organization.
Tip #1: Listen carefully
Teamsters Local 987 Shop Stewards need to be good listeners. When you meet with your fellow union member, listen to them carefully when they raise grievances or concerns. Some of the keys to listening are stopping what you are doing and limiting distractions to effectively listen. Remember to be respectful and patient when discussing issues with a member.
Tip #2: Take detailed notes
Always take detailed notes and keep records of all discussions, correspondence, and documentation related to any grievances when meeting with a union member or employer. Make sure to get all the facts, which include the 5 “W”s.
- Who was involved? Don’t forget to include all parties, including members and management.
- What is the grievance or concern being raised? What is the supervisor’s position? What have any witnesses said?
- When did the incident occur? Don’t forget to get accurate dates and times if possible.
- Where did the events take place?
- Why is this issue a grievance? What all has been violated?
Tip #3: Ask questions
To avoid any miscommunication, ask clarifying questions during your conversations. Ask open-ended questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” response. Be committed to finding the facts in every circumstance.
Tip #4: Don’t ignore grievances
As a shop steward, it is your job to represent your union members to the best of your ability. Always do your due diligence with every grievance that comes to you from a union member. If you’re unable to help with a particular issue, you can always reach out to your business agent to guide you on the next steps and support.
Tip #5: Keep it professional
As the main point of contact between the employer and the union, a shop steward must always be professional. This means handling situations in a calm and respectful manner, even when you’re feeling angry or frustrated. If you need help, reach out to your business agent.
Tip #6: Communicate carefully
We all have different backgrounds and perspectives, so communication can sometimes be complicated. Always clarify that your message is being understood, and never assume that someone knows what you mean. Repeat back the information with whoever you are talking to. This will help ensure you understand what has been said.
Tip #7: Don’t make it personal
When dealing with a grievance, do your best to keep your personal emotions out of the equation and stay as impartial as possible. Shop stewards should always act in the best interest of their fellow union members.
Tip 8: Anticipate what the other parties might say
Try to anticipate what the supervisor or employer might say when you’re listening to a grievance from a union member. Put yourself in their supervisor’s shoes. This way, you can ask the right questions and stay ahead of the problem.
Tip #9: Don’t act independently
Teamsters Local 987 Shop Stewards work on behalf of their union members. You should never approach an employer on your own terms and/or behind the back of your union member.
Tip #10: Ensure members are updated
Stewards must work with their own members and the local union to stay up to date on issues, problems, and concerns. Don’t forget to fill your union member in on any changes or updates in the process. Go over how the process works regarding concerns or grievances.
As a Shop Steward, you are a crucial member of the Teamsters 987 community. For more resources or if you are interested in becoming a Shop Steward, contact your local Calgary or Edmonton Union office.
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