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As a Union leader, you are Local 8’s representative in the workplace. To many of your co-workers, you are the Union, just as to many workers the supervisor is the organization. For many members, you may be their only contact with Local 8.
A Union Leader must be an organizer, an educator, a mobilizer, a sounding board, a communicator and a defender of the workers’ rights on the job.
What a Union Leader Needs to Know
KNOW THE CONTRACT
- What is says, what it means, how it works
- Where to find key provisions
- How to get Contracts into the hands of members
- How the Contract protects you and your co-workers
- Examine based on your experiences, be prepared to recommend changes
KNOW THE GRIEVANCE PROCESS
- Explore ways to settle problems without having to file a grievance
- Know the where to find the grievance process described in the Contract
- Follow the procedures carefully and be aware especially of timelines
KNOW THE EMPLOYER’S POLICIES/RULES
- Watch bulletin boards and other places notices are posted
- Read the organization’s newsletters, emails and other communications
- Have a current copy of the Employee and/or Employer Policies & Procedures
- Know about any statutory rules/regulations impacting your industry
KNOW YOUR CO-WORKERS
- Learn about their work and working conditions
- Know the various departments, job classifications and other details of the sites
- Keep an up-to-date email or phone list of co-workers to more easily mobilize
- Know your fellow Union Leaders (or potential) Leaders
KNOW LOCAL 8’S POLICIES/BY-LAWS
- Know Local 8’s Constitution and By-Laws
- Know Local 8’s policies that impact the Membership
- Know how the Union works
KNOW LOCAL 8’S PROGRAMS/ACTIVITIES
- Where and when the Chapter Meetings and Assemblies takes place
- Read Local 8 Journal
- Check on the www.opeiu8.org website
- Learn about Local 8 Committees
KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE WORLD
- Subscribe to the Washington State Labor Councils Report (www.wslc.org and it’s free) to get daily updates from compiled labor-related stories from around the country.
What a Union Leader Needs to Do
- Attend Chapter Meetings and Assemblies to find out what’s happening and to participate in Union decisions.
- Distribute Union Updates and other Union information.
- Listen to what members have to say and follow-up on issues.
- Hold regular meetings, even if it’s just an informal brownbag get-together over lunch or coffee.
- Talk to everyone in your work area at least every few weeks to ensure you’re on top of the issues.
- If you see a violation of the Contract or an injustice in the workplace, act on it—don’t wait for someone to complain.
- Represent all members fairly. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the law.
- Communicate with your staff Union Representative when you need help and support.