Nebraska Association of Public Employees

Newsletter June 2018



We know that a lot of our members rely on our stewards to protect their interests and to enforce their collective bargaining agreement (contract).  Even though your position as steward can have some anxiety and at times some frustration, your position assisting co-workers can be gratifying if you keep in mind the following tips:

  • You don’t have to be an expert; call the NAPE/AFSCME office and get the answers to your questions. Your union staff members are knowledgeable about many areas of labor law and contract interpretation and are here to help you.
  • Recruiting volunteers and delegating tasks will be an important skill you will need to learn; some folks do this naturally, other must learn how to do recruiting or team-building.
  • Your job is to empower co-workers; help others to learn how to solve their own problems.
  • Ask questions; sometimes the best ideas come from asking questions of a lot of people.
  • With grievances disciplinary actions and personnel proceedings, sometimes your most important duty will be to just listen.  Don’t be afraid to ask, then to listen!
  • Do not let management, employee relations or human resource manages treat you disrespectfully. On union business, when representing a co-worker, you’re supervisor and you, the official union steward, are equal.
  • Most supervisors have little understanding of labor law or contract rights. You, the union steward, are more of an expert in that area.
  • Identify the issues and demand changes; do not let supervision control the agenda. Although defending co-workers is the most important part of your job as a union steward, be pro-active and select the issue that you can make some gain on.
  • Always follow through on whatever you commit to, always get back to people, show responsibility if you want your co-workers to trust you.
  • Notes are important; take and keep good notes, maintain a good filing system for your notes.
  • Be a responsible employee if you want your co-workers and even management to respect you and your opinion.
  • Maintain a sense of humor, you may have some setbacks but learn from your mistakes.
  • Remember, helping to build the union is the best thing you can do for yourself, your family and your livelihood.




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Nebraska Association of Public Employees