Sixty-six SEA/SEIU Local 1984 stewards representing 10 different bargaining units came together for a day-long training Monday, March 24.
“It was definitely the largest attendance in a number of years,” said Rich Gulla, Steward Committee Chair and SEA Director. “It was our goal to integrate Executive Branch, Judicial Branch, County & Municipal, higher-ed, and private units’ stewards for this training; and we were really pleased with the turnout.”
The event featured two concurrent tracks; one for new or less experienced stewards (Steward 101) and the other for veteran stewards (Steward 201). Steward 201 offered participants a menu of break-out sessions – Grievance Writing, Investigations & Appeals, and Handling Tense Situations. Each experienced steward chose and attended two of these workshops, based on their level of experience, unit, and interest.
Daniel Ward, Superintendent of Belknap County Corrections, addressed the participants in Steward 201 regarding how he views and chooses to handle the steward/management relationship. In a nutshell, he believes in a more proactive approach to handling workplace issues. He said that when things begin to bubble up is the time to act; not wait until the bubble bursts. He also said that most issues can and should be resolved prior to a grievance ever being filed. He emphasized the importance of relationships, trust, and respect; and that honest communication is essential. He acknowledged that honest communication can sometimes be painful for all involved parties, but that it is required to resolve issues before they fester and become costly in terms of time spent on the grievance process; the hit to morale; and the monetary expenses associated with arbitration for both workers and management.
Attendees received a copy of the new Steward Handbook and the Representational Guide, which provide information and template forms and letter that every steward needs. If you were unable to attend and would like these materials, they are available through the Steward Google Group. If you are a steward and not yet part of that group or do not know how to access Google Groups, please contact Andrew Toland at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Response to the training event was quite positive. One Steward 101 participant said, “I came here not knowing much; now I feel I am ready to help the employees I represent.” A more seasoned Steward said, “Thank you. I really enjoyed being at a training that was for Executive Branch and other counties represented by SEIU 1984. Break-outs were good.”
The Steward Committee will be reviewing all comments and feedback when planning for the next training that is scheduled for Tuesday, June 10, 2014. The plan is to bring this training to the northern area of the state to make access easier for stewards who are assisting members in that region. More details will follow.
Special thanks to the Department of Transportation for allowing SEA/SEIU 1984 to use its conference space for the training earlier this week.