(on behalf of your new Contract Management Chair, Peter Ove)
I know we are all pleased with the improvements and gains in our new Collective Agreement and we have much to celebrate. However, ensuring that our employer honours all the new terms in the contract takes a team and the start of a new contract is a great time to join the Contract Management Committee. Even though you’ve heard me talk about CMC before, you might be more familiar with the term “stewards” or “shop steward” as they are more commonly referred to.
Historically, the steward system was created to help newly formed unions stay functional by creating a formal leadership role within the local. This structure served to support members and make sure the collective agreement was enforced. A steward’s primary job was to make sure that collective agreements were worth more than the paper they were written on. The same thing can happen with a new contract and that’s why we need YOU more than ever.
Stewards play a vital part in building a stronger union. They have two fundamental roles:
- Make sure working conditions reflect the collective agreement.
Without a steward, the collective agreement is just paper. A steward’s job is to bring it to life. How? By making sure management follows all the clauses that your union negotiated in bargaining. Stewards deal with complaints, investigate grievances, and ensure that working conditions live up to the contract. Stewards combine knowledge with practice to solve problems and build healthier, happier workplaces.
- Connect members to each other – and to the union.
Stewards act as hubs for union networking in the workplace. Direct contact with members helps keep us knowledgeable about working conditions all across the College. That’s why a steward’s ability to engage and connect with members is essential – from casual face-to-face contact to local meetings to regular communication like newsletters and updates on websites and social media.
When members are connected, they participate. More participation builds stronger unions and better working conditions for all.
Every department and division should have union representation and there are different levels of involvement and responsibility! Email Peter Ove if you’d like to learn more or volunteer to join the Contract Management Committee, today!
Lynelle Yutani (she/they)
President, Camosun College Faculty Association
Lynelle is a queer, leftist rabble-rouser galvanized to guard the rights of union members and is on a crusade to convince you that you get out of your Union what you put into it. Lynelle serves on a number of Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE) Committees and FPSE affiliate committees in CAUT, the BC Fed, and the Canadian Labour Congress. Lynelle also serves as V.P. of her Strata Council & oversees a rooftop community garden which partners with Harvest & Share Food Aid Society to grow fresh produce for local foodbanks and community food security programs.
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