Stewards FAQ's

What does a steward do?

The Steward Roles and Responsibilities spell out the key tasks of the steward.

How can I find out more about SGEU?

SGEU also has steward training courses called LD 10 and LD 20 which provide information about the structure and function of the union. The Steward Manual handbook and Steward Pocket Calendar are other resources. SGEU is a large organization, whose structure can sometimes seem complicated. The longer you are active and the more questions you ask other stewards and your chief steward, the more familiar you will become with it.

Visit sgeuonline.org to learn everything about SGEU.

I am not getting information from SGEU that other stewards receive. What's wrong?

It may be that SGEU has not received your steward registration form following your election. You can call SGEU Membership Records at extension 239, toll-free at 1-800-667-5221 or in Regina at 522-8571 to find out.

Where can I find orientation materials for new members?

Suggested speaking notes can be found on this web page in the Steward Resources section. Contact SGEU, Education for LD5 kits.

How can I balance my work and steward duties?

Stewards are also employees and as such are responsible for performing the duties of their paid employment. On the other hand, you have accepted a volunteer role, so there is an expectation that you will devote some of your free time to steward duties. Check in your collective agreement and with other stewards to see which steward duties you can legitimately perform on work time. For the rest, it’s okay to set boundaries on how much of your own time you will use for steward work. Each steward will do that in a different way. If you are feeling overloaded, talk to your chief steward.

How do members submit bargaining proposals?

Before the end of the term of your current collective agreement, all members of your bargaining unit will be sent a letter asking them to submit written suggestions for new bargaining proposals. Talk to your chief steward or bargaining committee chair to find out more details.

What do I do if someone comes to me and wants to file a grievance?

The first time a member asks for help can be nerve-wracking, especially if you haven’t taken any steward training yet! While it’s important to take this request very seriously, you aren’t on your own. First of all, ask the member to provide you will full details of what has happened. Take careful notes. Review all relevant clauses of your collective agreement to see if there are other questions you need to ask them. Then tell them that you are going to consult with your chief steward, a more experienced steward, or your AAA (depending on the practice in your bargaining unit) and that you will get back to them shortly. Talk the case over with your chief steward or other representative, who can advise you what part(s) of the collective agreement have been violated, if any; what further information you may need to locate; and what steps should be taken next.

What is the SGEU scholarship and bursary process?

The SGEU Education team manage the bursary program and are the only ones who sees the bursary applications.  When the applications are received by the office, they are assigned a number (i.e. 1,2,3, etc) .  The first two pages of the application are removed to protect the identity of the applicant.  The rest of the application package, including the essay,  is vetted to ensure there are no self-identifying marks.  Once this process is complete the vetted applications are forwarded to the bursary selection committee for their review – they do not know the applicants name or the relationship of the applicant, i.e. whether a member or a dependant.

The bursary committee awards points on the essays and has adopted a point system on a variety of factors such as income, equity, whether the applicant has dependants (and if so, how many dependants) or not and whether the applicant is going to a private or public institution. The bursary committee returns the graded applications to the SGEU education office.  The assigned numbered and graded applications are returned to their original file.  The highest points are awarded the bursaries.  While not all applicants can win, five full time and three part time awards are given out each year.

SGEU believes that this process is the most equitable way of handling the many applications we receive annually.  If you have applied and have not been awarded a bursary, we encourage you to continue pursuing bursaries through the SGEU Education department.  SGEU wishes you every good success with your education!

What is an SGEU Ombudsmun?

The SGEU Ombudsmun works in accordance with the SGEU Constitution and is the person designated to work closely with the Chair at every SGEU event.  Together their responsibility is to ensure that the SGEU events are conducted in a fair, unbiased and respectful way.  The Ombudsmun will monitor the tone of that event and ensure the principles of a successful meeting are respected by all participants.  They are tasked with the responsibility to respond to complaints about unfairness from people who believe they or another person has been treated unfairly.

The Ombudsmun may investigate and gather the information on member complaints.  Based on the information they have gathered they determine how to respond and what to recommend.  If the case is particularly complicated and they can’t resolve the matter themselves,  the Ombudsman can only make recommendations to the governing body Membership Constitution & Legislation (MC&L).  This is the body tasked with investigating complaints within SGEU.

It’s important to remember that the Ombudsmun keeps the information confidential and that means working directly with the person or persons who think someone has been unfair to them.

The SGEU Education Department maintains a list of active Ombudsmun for your SGEU event.

What is the role of the steward?

Generally speaking the steward is a positive, motivated, enthusiastic, respected and assertive supporter (and promoter) of the Union.  It is their role to resolve conflict in the workplace by being seen as credible and reliable to each member and the employer.  They have the ability to deliver difficult (even if unpopular) news to both parties. The steward is recognized and respected for possessing a strong work ethic, diplomacy, confidentiality and fairness in fulfilling the responsibilities of their role.

What is a grievance?

In a trade union, a grievance is a complaint filed by an employee which may be resolved by procedures provided for in a collective agreement or by mechanisms established by an employer. Such a grievance may arise from a violation of the collective bargaining agreement or violations of the law, such as workplace safety regulations. All employees have the contractual right to raise a grievance under the collective agreement.

What are the five criteria used to determine if a grievance exists?

Does it violate the collective agreement?

Does it violate a federal or provincial labour law?

Does it violate the rights of the worker?

Is it a wrong interpretation of a clause in the collective agreement?

Does it violate past practice?

Why should stewards be ready to explain the "work now, grieve later" rule to members?

The work now grieve later rule binds workers to follow the orders of the employer or be disciplined for insubordination.  Stewards should always advise members of this rule to protect them from discipline, especially during grievances.

What is the most common and serious type of offence cited for disciplinary action?

Insubordination is the most common type of disciplinary action found in labour arbitration and is also considered to be one of the most serious offences.

What is insubordination?

Insubordination is the intentional refusal of a worker to follow the instructions of his/her employer.  Except in very limited circumstances, the rule is “obey now, grieve later”. If the employer instructions are not criminal and do not risk your health and safety you should follow those instructions and grieve the action later.  “work now grieve later”.

What are the three types of grievances?

The three types of grievances are:


Can time limits on a grievance be extended if only one party agrees?

No. Time limits can only be extended by mutual agreement. This must be done in writing.

How does a steward withdraw a grievance?

Withdrawing a grievance should always be done in writing.  Not formally withdrawing a grievance is called abandonment and can set the stage for a failure to represent change being brought against the union.

What top two skills are important when you are a steward?

Communication:  The steward has well-developed communication skills, including the ability and willingness to give you undivided attention.  Is thorough and well organized and empowers members to help themselves by providing them with information and support.

Compassion:  The steward is compassionate and is able to develop a rapport with members.  They will make members feel comfortable and provide them with supportive encouragement.

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