Stewards are official representatives of the Institute. As such, they are the vital link between the union and the membership. It is important they are aware of their role and responsibilities.
The objective of the Steward Policy is to outline the selection, renewal, and removal process, as well as the roles and responsibilities of stewards and to ensure that the steward program runs efficiently and effectively.
(a) The Steward’s Role
As representatives of the Institute, stewards are responsible for ensuring the flow of information to and from the membership. They act as the employees’ representative within the workplace by assisting in the handling of complaints and grievances. Stewards represent the Institute at formal and informal consultation meetings with the employer. They also act as a referral agent and a guide to the members requiring union service.
(b) The Institute’s Commitment
Recognizing the importance and contribution of stewards to the vitality and strength of the organization, the Institute commits, to the best of its ability, to provide support, training, resources, and recognition to its stewards.
(c) The Steward’s Commitment
Stewards undertake a personal commitment to serve the Institute and promote the rights of its members, with honesty and integrity and to the best of their ability. A member wishing to become a steward agrees to take the Basic Steward Training Course at the earliest possible opportunity and will be appointed as a steward upon completion of such training.
(d) Duties and Responsibilities
The duties and responsibilities of stewards are as defined in the Institute Regulations. In addition, Stewards have the responsibility to advise their respective regional office of any grievance and/or other recourse filed on behalf of members or of their involvement in any informal discussions and/or mediation with the employer.
Only Regular Members can be stewards.
(f) Waiting Period
Members applying to become a steward who is currently involved in any conflicts with their employer or any other member may have their application held in abeyance until the conflicts are resolved. Decisions on whether to postpone an application will be made by the President who will inform the member of this decision. Review of the application will proceed when the member advises the Institute that the situation has been resolved.
(g) Nomination Procedure
Members wishing to become Stewards must fill out the ASteward Application Form@ which can be obtained form PIPSC Offices or from the PIPSC website. The applicant must seek the endorsement of a minimum of three (3) Regular Members.
Upon completion of the Basic Steward Training Course, the applicant must agree in writing to the Guidelines for Appointment of Stewards as attached in Appendix A.
Members applying to become stewards will have until the second December 31 following the date on which their application was submitted to completed the basic steward training course. Should they not complete the training within that time frame, their application will be cancelled and, should the member still be interested in become a steward, he/she will need to reapply.
BOD - December 2009
(h) Appointment Process
The Steward Coordinator will verify that the applicant has completed the Basic Steward Training Course and has signed the Guidelines for Appointment of Stewards prior to submitting the request for appointment to the President
The President of the Institute appoints and renews appointments of all Institute Stewards. These appointments are made on the basis of the recommendation from the Group Executive, taking into consideration the comments received from the appropriate Sub-group, Region, Branch Executive, and regional staff and any other consideration the President deems appropriate.
The appointment takes the form of a certificate confirming the status of the Steward and the issuance of a Steward Identification Card. A letter confirming the appointment of a new steward is sent to the Head of Human Resources in the employing department or separate employer. Copies of this letter are sent to the member, the appropriate PIPSC Regional Office, the Regional Director, the Group President, the Chief Steward, the President of the Departmental Consultation Team and Treasury Board (when required).
Stewards are appointed for a three (3) year term. All terms end on the third December 31st following appointment.
(j) Interruption of Stewardship
Stewards on extended periods of leave (for more than 30 days) will see their stewardship interrupted for the duration of the leave. Under exceptional circumstances, Steward may wish to maintain their stewardship during this period. In such cases, stewards will send a written request, including the reasons why they wish to maintain their stewardship, to the PIPSC Steward Coordinator who will submit the request to the President.
(BOD –January 2013)
(k) Renewal Process
Prior to the end of their term, Stewards will complete a renewal form. A copy of the form will be sent to the Sub-group, Regional and Branch Executives, and regional offices who will advise the Steward Coordinator of any comments on the renewal taking into consideration the Guidelines for Renewal of Stewards as attached in Appendix B. Copies of the renewal forms and comments received are sent to the Group Executive who makes the final recommendation to the President.
Failure by a Steward to return the renewal form will result in the non-renewal of stewardship. If such a situation should occur, the member will need to reapply to become a Steward.
(l) Termination of Stewardship
By-Law 12.6 identifies the reasons for the termination of stewardship.
(ii) Process in Cases of Member Complaints
The Institute’s Dispute Resolution Policy will be followed in cases of member complaints against Stewards.
(m) Steward Awards
The Institute recognizes the significant role which Stewards play in the organization. Accordingly, each region nominates one member annually to receive its Steward of the Year Award, which is designed to honour a Steward who has gone Aabove and beyond@ the scope of regular duties and has thereby made an extraordinary contribution to the Institute. Recipients are traditionally recognized at Regional or Steward Councils, in addition to being presented with an award at the PIPSC Annual General Meeting.
(n) Steward Training
Stewards have an obligation to undertake steward training provided by the Institute. Each region is responsible for providing training opportunities. Generally, the training consists of Basic Steward Training and Training Modules on specific topics offered each year as referred to in the PIPSC Training Policy and Training Guidelines. Stewards are also invited to attend annual Steward Council meetings where additional training may be available.
(o) Steward Protection
The Steward has official status in the workplace since the authority to appoint a representative of the members is contained in each of the Institute’s Collective Agreements. Legislation provides protection to the Stewards in the performance of their steward duties and the Institute will support its Stewards should they be faced with employer retaliation.
Activities for which Stewards are entitled to reimbursement include but are not limited to authorized participation at Regional Stewards’ Councils, training courses, consultation meetings, and other activities approved by the Board of Directors;.
(q) Chief Steward
Each region may appoint or elect a Chief Steward in accordance with their regional constitution. In regions where there is no Chief Steward, the duties are carried out by the Director and Regional Executive.
The duties of the Chief Steward may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Coordinate the region’s mentoring program;
- Welcome new stewards;
- Report to the Regional Executive on changes in the region’s steward list (additions, deletions);
- Play the role of intermediary between Stewards in the region’s Branches in order to promote networking as well as connections between Stewards and Employee Relations Officers.
- Encourages Stewards to exchange information and tips on grievance representation, highlighting regional successes and best practices;
- Help co-ordinate group grievance campaigns at the regional level.
- Contribute to the preparation of the annual Steward Council;
- Help identify regional Steward training requirements and work in collaboration with the Regional Training Committee and the regional staff in establishing the regional training budget and program.
The Chief Steward’s role should not conflict with the existing group structures and should not interfere or conflict with staff functions. The Chief Steward should work in close collaboration with the Institute staff.
(r) Mentoring Program
Each region has a mentoring program aimed at pairing new Stewards with more experienced Stewards who will teach the new Stewards what they need to know to effectively perform their duties.
Stewards who have taken basic training and advanced training modules and who have demonstrated an ability to perform their duties may volunteer to become mentors. Mentors require strong interpersonal skills and the ability to coach and motivate new Stewards. Mentors agree to help other less experienced Stewards by sharing their experiences and knowledge.
For more information refer to the Mentoring Guide for Stewards.