Sometimes there is no immediate practical solution to a particular problem at the workplace. But that doesn’t mean you need to throw up your hands in despair. As a steward, you should always look for ways to help build a sense of solidarity among the members.
One on one. Every contact with a member is a potential chance for you to make a point about sticking together. Obviously you don’t want to become obnoxious or a bore, but the union relies on its stewards to be positive and upbeat about the union and the important role it serves in representing the members’ interests.
Informal meetings. Stewards can sometimes use breaks or mealtime to discuss union issues with members. You may want to discuss a recent Business Manager’s grievance that affects everyone at your work location, or a legislative initiative to protect workers’ rights, or some issue at the workplace that everyone has been grumbling about. While you must be careful not to let these discussions infringe on regular worktime, they can be a good way to help members feel included, and to invite members to attend unit meetings for further information and discussion.
Unit meetings. Encourage members to bring concerns and issues to unit meetings. Let them know that unit meetings are their opportunity to communicate their ideas to the union leadership. If people resist the idea of going to unit meetings, see if they have any suggestions for making the unit meetings more interesting.
Symbolic grievances. On occasion, it might make sense to pursue a grievance even if you know you can’t win. Your Local 1245 Business Representative can help you determine when this strategy of filing a symbolic grievance might make sense. An example would be a working condition that members don’t like even though the contract is silent on the issue. Putting it into the grievance procedure can give you a forum for letting management know how the members feel.