Stewards have the opportunity to speak to members every day, at mealtime, at break and during working hours. Take advantage of these opportunities to inform members about the latest union activities and to encourage participation. This will reinforce union solidarity.
Members expect you to know more about the union than they do and they will listen to what you have to say. They might not agree, but generally they will trust you. Make sure you tell the truth and do not make up answers if you are asked something you do not know.
Get to know newly-hired workers
- Every new employee is a potential member or an automatic member of the union. Whether this new employee becomes an enthusiastic member or an indifferent one all depends on you.
- You must convince new employees that it is in their interest to become a union member and that the union movement is a democratic organization they will be proud to belong to.
- Introduce yourself and explain your work as a steward. Tell them about the union. Offer your help if they have problems. Explain all the gains that the union has made for its members since they were first unionized.
- Make sure new employees feel welcome. Put them at ease. Give them a copy of the collective agreement and offer to answer any questions they may have. Give them CEP literature. This will foster a sense of belonging.
Participation in meetings, events and union training sessions
- Unions are among the most democratic organizations in the world. It is both a privilege and a duty for every member to take part in the election of stewards, union committee members and leaders.
- It’s at union meetings that members learn how their dues are used, who their representatives are and what the union does. When members do not bother attending meetings, they weaken their union. It goes without saying that you must encourage them to attend all meetings.
- Hold shop meetings and keep your members up to date on the latest developments. Encourage them to make their views known.
- When a situation arises in the workplace that affects many members, it is up to you to call a meeting.
- You are the union in the minds of your members. Make sure that every member receives union newspapers and that the bulletin board contains the latest information.
Urge your members to use the union’s services. Inform members of the social activities sponsored by the union. Help the members experiencing problems outside work, for example: disqualification from unemployment insurance, a need for daycare or a problem with alcohol or drugs. Refer them to union leaders trained to respond to these needs or to CEP’s specialized services.