General USWU Questions
Some employers will say almost anything to keep you from joining or forming a union. And with good reason: if you have a union, you have a voice in the decisions that affect you, your job, and your family. Your employer may try to tell you that unions cause everything from bad weather to economic destruction.
But the truth is that labor unions are a vital part of any democracy. Union membership is as American as apple pie, and the only way many working people can exercise any control.In this section you will find answers to general questions about the United Service Workers Union.
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How many members are in the USWU?”
The United Service Workers Union represents approximately 40,000 members within twenty affiliated local unions throughout the United States. It has satellite offices in Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and upstate New York and members throughout the nation.
What about strikes?”
Probably the scariest thing you'll hear about unions is that they are always going out on strike and that you may be forced to go on strike.
The truth is that 99% of all union contracts are settled without any sort of work stopage at all. And you and your co-workers, because you control your union, are the only ones who can vote to strike or not to strike.
What is a Shop Steward?”
I. The Job of the Shop Steward:
II. Method of Selecting a Shop Steward:
- Represents Workers to the Employer (handling grievances);
- Represents Workers to the Union;
- Represents the Union to the Employer;
- Represents the Union to the Workers;
- Interprets the Employer to the Workers.The Shop Steward's strategic position in the Union:
- The "vital link" between the members and the officers;
- A continuous "on the spot" administrator of the Collective Bargaining Agreement;
- A central position in the relationship between the Union, Workers and the Employer.
III. General duties and Special Skills of the Shop Steward:
- Election by members in unit/department.
IV. What the Steward needs to know:
- Organizer - This function includes organizing the unorganized in his/her location, combating anti-Union activities and developing membership interest and participating in Union affairs.
- Educator - In this capacity, the steward gives information about the history and achievements of the Union movement and current Union activities and policies. He/She helps explain and interpret the contract.
- Interviewer - The Steward listens to complaints and answers questions from fellow workers. He/She seeks to get the full, true facts about all grievances and other complaints by talking with aggrieved workers and other persons who may be involved or have pertinent information.
- Negotiator - The steward helps prepare and present grievances of workers, along with your Union representative, to the proper employer representative (supervisor, department head, or others, depending on the contract provision) in order to obtain fair and satisfactory adjustment.
- Leader - He/She enlists the cooperation of his/her fellow workers and initiates action in their interests. He/She seeks to prevent grievances by his/her effort to remove the causes of grievances and by constantly looking out for contract violations.
- Counselor -The steward advises and assists the Union members on many matters, which are outside the scope of normal collective bargaining.
- The contract - clauses, procedures, past interpretations;
- The shop or department - rules, conditions, processes, operations;
- Job duties and rates;
- Methods of wage payments;
- Seniority standing of members;
- State and Federal laws, regulations;
- Union members in every department;
- Employer representatives with whom he/she must deal with;
- Effective ways of dealing with people.
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