PSAC610 Departmental Stewards
Stewards Handbook - 2016-2017 handbook coming soon
The Importance of Departmental Stewards
Your role as a Departmental Steward is very important to the daily functioning of the union! You are the first line of communication amongst all the GTAs and PDAs in your department and you provide a vital communication link between GTAs and PDAs (the members of the Local) and the Local’s Executive Committee. As a Departmental Steward you also help to protect the rights that the union has successfully bargained for in our Collective Agreement.
This handbook will serve as a guide to your role as a Departmental Steward, and will provide you with helpful advice on how to approach your roles, responsibilities, and some of the common situations you may encounter. Always remember that if at any time you need help answering member questions, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! You can ALWAYS ask for assistance from your Division’s Chief Steward, or any other member of the Local’s Executive Committee.
Welcome to the PSAC Local 610 team! We are very happy to have you working with us on behalf of the union, and we thank you for taking on the important job of representing the interests of our members in the workplace.
Departmental Stewards are selected or elected by the members of the department in which they are working. Each department is entitled to one Steward for every 25 TAs.
What Are the Roles And Responsibilities Of Departmental Stewards?
Departmental Stewards provide the most direct line of communication between the Local’s members and its executive and non-executive officers. Generally speaking, they assist members in addressing workplace issues, and relay information about these issues to the Local’s Chief Stewards and/or Executive Officers so that they can be appropriately addressed in a timely manner and in accordance with the Collective Agreement.
According to section 4.4 of the Local’s bylaws, the key roles you will assume as a Departmental Steward include:
- Encouraging members in your department to sign their union membership cards;
- Liaising with the members of your department, the Stewards of other departments and divisions, the Local’s Officers, and especially your Divisional Chief Steward;
- Soliciting information from and representing the interests of the members of your department within the Local;
- Attending Stewards and General Membership meetings;
- Assisting with the grievance process, where appropriate (more will be said about this in greater detail below); and
- Directing members in your department to relevant sections of the Collective Agreement when discussing workplace issues, as needed.
There are additional roles that Departmental Stewards take that are not outlined in the Local’s bylaws. These roles are expanded upon below.
How To Become An Effective Departmental Steward
The following tips will help prepare you to act and react to member concerns and workplace issues. The list should equip you with the foundational knowledge you will need to serve as a Departmental Steward effectively and with confidence. The most important thing you can do is to listen to members when they talk to you about workplace issues and to alert your Chief Steward of any problems that may arise. Remember - YOU ARE NOT ALONE - your Chief Steward and the members of the Executive Committee are always ready to support you in your role!
Read & Be Familiar With the Collective Agreement (CA)
The CA is a legal contract that is negotiated between, and agreed upon by the members of the Local and our employer, the University of Western Ontario. The articles contained within the CA outline the terms of our employment, including wages, benefits, how to resolve disagreements, and workplace responsibilities. The current CA is valid from September 2012 to August 2015. You are encouraged to read the CA and to always keep a copy within easy reach. A digital copy of the CA is also available on the Local’s website. The CA will help you to assess whether a workplace issue represents a violation of the terms of our employment. This is important information you will want to share with any member that brings a complaint to you. Should you assist a member in informally resolving a complaint, this is also information that you will want to communicate to the member’s supervisor.
Understand The Structure Of The Duties Specification Letter (DSL)
Within three weeks of a TA’s acceptance of an Offer of Employment, each TA will sit down with his/her supervisor to discuss his/her DSA. This document indicates what duties a TA is expected to perform and the number of hours it is anticipated that each assigned task will take. Both the TA and TA supervisor must sign the DSA indicating that they mutually agree to the terms of the contract as specified. It is crucial to remember that a TA cannot be expected to work more than 140 hours per term. It is very important that you encourage the TAs in your department to track their hours so they do not incur a situation of overwork and/or so that they can inform their supervisor when they predict they are likely to go over their hours as assigned.
Current Union Issues
Keep yourself informed about the current issues that are affecting the Local, such as the dates of contract negotiations, election and meeting dates, and important campaigns.
Know When To Ask For Help
Do not be afraid to ask your Chief Steward, or another Executive for help on an issue. Their email contacts can be found on the contact information page.