Union activists take first step to becoming stewards

AFSCME District Council 36 held an empowering and energizing new steward training yesterday for about 40 members from a dozen different locals unions.

The training started with each of the attendees introducing themselves and stating why they wanted to be a steward. As each member stated their reason, a recurring theme became clear, advocacy. They want to be more knowledgeable about their union rights and union contracts so they can be great advocates for themselves and their coworkers. Stewards are often looked at as the backbone of the union because of the way they protect their coworkers and enforce their contracts. “When I think of a steward, I think of an educator, an advocate, a communicator,” said AFSCME Local 2712 member Courtney Brown. “Someone who is knowledgeable about policy and willing to speak up when it is not being enforced or being enforced incorrectly.”

The steward training helped attendees identify different strategies for grievances and workplace problems. The training was interactive and gave members an opportunity to participate in a mock grievance. They were also given tips on how to be effective leaders and organize members into action. “Oftentimes stewards are the voice of the union,” said Brown. “Stewards help empower employees to speak up and address the perceived injustices.” Each of the attendees left the training feeling empowered and inspired to lead and help their unions build power for a better future.