May 17, 2017
To keep people in the union, Hoffman says, you have to get them involved. When someone brings in a grievance, for instance, it’s a mistake for the steward to treat the member like a lawyer treats a client: “‘Okay, thanks for telling me the problem,’ then they leave the office and it’s all in the steward’s hands.”
Instead the steward should work through the grievance with the worker as a teammate. “Sometimes you have to explain, ‘No, that’s not going to work,’ and why,” Hoffman says, “but when they feel they’re part of the process, they seem to be happier with the knowledge that the union’s trying the best they can. They’re in it with you.”
Treat each grievance like it matters. A case may be old hat to a steward or officer who has handled a hundred similar cases, but “it’s not old hat to the member,” Hoffman says. “It’s the first time they got screwed like that.”
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