Training Valuable for New and Experienced Stewards

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SEA/SEIU Local 1984 President Rich Gulla addresses stewards at the start of training on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, a large group of stewards from across the Executive Branch took part in Steward Training, held at the Morton Building in Concord. Stewards, both experienced and new, are required to attend training at least once a year to learn new skills or keep their skills sharp.

Tuesday’s training included a panel led by Randy Hunneyman, the SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Executive Branch Negotiator, and Matt Newland, the state’s Director of Employee Relations. In addition, stewards heard from General Counsel Glenn Milner and outside counsel Jake Krupski, and split up into groups to work through several scenarios.

Edna Feighner, who works for the Division of Cultural Resources, has been a steward for four years and said she thankfully doesn’t need to often use what she learns at these trainings.

“Even though I’m not always using it, I want to make sure I’m ready in case something comes up,” she said. “This one was the best one that I’ve gone to. The information we’re getting is really great.”

Feighner said since steward training is fairly comprehensive, she gets good updates in other areas that the union is dealing with.

“Going to these trainings, you’re able to catch up on what’s happening with bargaining and what’s happening with legal issues,” she said, adding that it helps re-energize her to continue her work with the union.

For the new stewards in the group, the experience could be varied. For some, such as Norm Girouard who’s been a member leader at the Liquor Commission for many years and worked for a unionized company earlier in his career, the training included lots of refreshers. For others, such as Shannon Libby of the Department of Corrections, it was a lot of new material.

“As a new steward, it was slightly overwhelming, but still very helpful,” Libby said, adding that there’s additional training planned for the newest of stewards, like her. “The scenarios were good, and it was good being able to meet other stewards.”

Girouard said that his fellow members have reached out to him for years for help with workplace issues, long before he became a steward, but the training gives him the information he needs to officially do the job. And if he doesn’t know the answer to someone’s question, he knows what to do.

“If I’m really not sure, I know who to go to to get the answer,” he said.

Thank you to all of the stewards who took part in Tuesday’s training, and thank you for the work you do on behalf of your fellow members.

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