Your Stewards Committee – Who We Are and What We Do
Your TRUFA Stewards committee’s primary role is to ensure that the provisions of the TRU/TRUFA Collective Agreement (CA) are honoured. A secondary, but equally important role, is to support our members in understanding how the CA is applied and to provide support with issues and problems they may have with the Employer. And thirdly, we support our members when they are experiencing conflict with management and/or are experiencing interpersonal conflict amongst their peers.
Our roles as stewards are governed by the Steward’s Code of Conduct and our Terms of Reference. These official documents are endorsed by the TRUFA Executive.
Most stewards work is behind the scenes and the people who come to the union for help expect their privacy to be protected and we, therefore, treat all investigations with the utmost confidentiality. Stewards make every effort to respond quickly, but delays can occur while we are investigating the issue and waiting to secure meetings with senior management.
When we get a complaint from a member it is the steward’s role to FULLY investigate the complaint, discuss at the steward’s table whether there is a violation of the Collective Agreement, come up with a plan to address it if there is a violation, and carry out the plan, all the while supporting the member by keeping the lines of communication open.
A common misconception is that the stewards are not effectively representing the membership if they aren’t filing grievances. Filing a grievance should never be the first step when a complaint comes forward even if the member believes it forms the basis of a grievance. A thorough investigation needs to be conducted which includes interviewing those who may hold a different view from that of the potential grievor so that all of the facts can be determined.
Following a thorough investigation, and if it’s shown that the Collective Agreement has been violated, an effective strategy which your stewards committee has used for the last dozen years or more is to take the matter to the ad hoc Joint Contract Adjudication Committee(JCAC) . JCAC is comprised of two or three representatives from the union and two or three senior administrators. Any issue before JCAC is considered “live” and timelines for filing grievances are placed on hold while the parties try to reach a resolution. Failing resolution at JCAC the union will file a grievance. A grievance is always a long and protracted process which leaves members languishing until their issue is resolved, often months if not years after the violation. However, with the threat of a grievance and a costly arbitration process waiting in the wings, we have been able to resolve countless issues to the benefit of our membership.
Submitted on behalf of the TRUFA Stewards Committee by Mike Looney and Krista Lussier, Co-VP, TRUFA Stewards Committee