Kevin Diale, Chief Steward, 19 years at JBS

“When people come from other countries, even in small groups they should not feel alone. We're all Union. All brothers and sisters. We deserve better quality of life no matter where we came from."

The Steward is the Key Link

Good stewards are the backbone of a successful union. They are the leaders, problem-solvers, communicators, and organizers that unite workers together and keep everyone moving forward together.

As union members, we are all responsible for advocating respect and justice on the job and making sure we stick up for each other.

In addition to being union members, some of us choose to take a more active role, as stewards, in our workplaces. Union stewards step up, either by election or appointment, to enforce our contract and to make sure our coworkers know their rights. We accompany other workers at disciplinary and represent union issues as equals with management.

Good stewards are the backbone of an effective union.

Good stewards are the backbone of an effective union. We reach out to new members and help educate them on their rights. We serve as a bridge between elected union leadership and workers on the job. We listen to our co-workers and provide a confidential way for members to bring forward their ideas and concerns.

But most importantly, it is a steward’s job to inspire, lead and build a sense of unity and solidarity among the wide range of workers in our union.

All union members have a right to have their steward present with them during meetings that they feel might be disciplinary. In 1975, in NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the rights of employees to have union representation during investigatory interviews. Since that case involved a clerk being investigated by the Weingarten Company, these rights have become known as “Weingarten rights.”

If you are called into a closed meeting with your manager and you start to feel nervous that things may take a disciplinary turn, you have the right to stop the meeting and request the meeting be resumed when your union steward is present. If you’ve got questions about your contract, your steward is the best person to ask.

Become a Steward

Contacting your local office is the best way to learn more about how to become a steward, but you can also contact us at the International and we'll put you in contact with someone from your local who can help you learn more about what it means to be a steward and how you can become one.


Weingarten Rights