Ellen O. Boardman
O’DONOGHUE & O’DONOGHUE LLP
What is a Steward?
The Steward is the most important day-to-day link between the Union
and UA-represented employees on the job site.
Stewards do more than simply represent employees, file grievances, and
administer contracts. Stewards are:
Organizers: you are responsible for growing and maintaining union
solidarity on the jobsite.
Problem Solvers: you are the employees’ first responder with respect
to jobsite problems and disputes.
Educators: you will teach employees about the Union, its priorities,
and its programs.
Leaders: you are the point person for the Union on the jobsite.
The Job of a Steward
NPLA, Section VI(A): “The Union shall notify
the Employer of the Appointment of the job
Steward at the pre-job conference or sooner,
if possible. . . ”
Stewards are first on the job because
Stewards are the Union’s EYES and EARS
on the jobsite.
The Job of a Steward:
Enforcing the NPLA
Stewards are the first-line enforcement of
the National Pipe Line Agreement
Stewards MUST know and understand all
of the provisions of the NPLA and the Pre-
Job Conference Report.
Knowledge and uniform application of the
NPLA and Pre-Job Report will help resolve
disputes and grievances QUICKLY and
The Job of a Steward:
Stewards play an important role in the
processing of grievances:
NPLA, Article XIX(A): “Any grievances,
disputes or differences of opinion which arise
between the Employer’s supervisory
personnel and Union representatives in the
field shall be settled on the job wherever
possible; provided that such settlements shall
not vary any of the wages, terms or
conditions of this Agreement.”
The Job of a Steward:
If an Employee cannot resolve a dispute with the
Welder Foreman, the Steward gets involved at
Step 2. If the dispute cannot be resolved by the
Steward and the Foreman, the Employer’s
superintendent will be called in.
Only if the dispute cannot be resolved at this
level, will it be moved to the Business
NPLA, Article VI(E): “. . . The Steward will be allowed a reasonable time to
process grievances or complaints. . . .”
The Job of a Steward: Maintaining
Stewards are responsible for careful completion of
job Reports, which serve many purposes.
These Reports contain valuable information about
past practice under the NPLA.
The Local, the Pipeline Department, and UA’s
Attorneys need this information when we have a
work jurisdictional dispute with management and/or
Detailed reports of jobs that have been completed
years before are often key to proving our case.
These reports can be the most valuable evidence
we have of past practice.
The Job of a Steward: Supporting
Stewards are also the Union’s VOICE in the workplace.
Stewards must fully support the Union.
Stewards are responsible for communicating the Union’s priorities,
policies and programs to the bargaining unit employees so they must
support these priorities and programs.
Stewards must also organize support for the Union within the
The Job of a Steward: Setting A
Stewards should set a positive example on
Follow the NPLA, the referral rules, and
the Employer’s safety rules and agreed-
Act professionally at all times and with
everyone, including employees, foremen,
management and others on the jobsite.
The Rights of a Steward
Equality: Stewards are management’s equal in all matters relating to the
collective bargaining agreement and the union-employer relationship.
This means that, when acting in your official capacity, you have the
right to openly disagree and question foremen and management
without being disciplined.
This right does not apply when a Steward is acting in an individual
Protection: Stewards are protected from intimidation, discipline and
retaliation by employers because of the stewards’ activity.
Fairness: Stewards cannot be held to higher standards or stricter rules
than their co-workers.
NPLA, Article VI(C): “The Steward shall be a working steward and shall
perform his duties the same as any other Journeyman, and shall not be
discharged for Union activities. . . .”
What a Steward is not
A Steward is not a supervisor or manager of the bargaining unit
You are not permitted to assume or exercise any supervisory or
managerial authority over bargaining unit employees.
You are not permitted to discipline or recommend discipline of
any bargaining unit employee.
You are not permitted to dictate who may or may not work on a
job, or to send employees home.
What Is NOT the Steward’s
NPLA, Article VI(C): “. . . The Steward’s duties shall not
include any matters relating to referral, hiring, retention,
termination, or discipline of Employees.”
NPLA, Article VI(G): “ . . . The Steward has no authority from
the Union to cause a work stoppage.”
NPLA, Article VI(E): “The Steward shall not be permitted to
take time away from his job duties to handle administrative
work for the Union.
The Law You Should Know
UNION’S DUTY OF FAIR
EMPLOYER’S DUTY TO
DUTY OF FAIR
Source is the National Labor Relations Act
Derived from the Union’s role as the exclusive
bargaining representative of all employees within a
Union must represent all bargaining unit
employees, regardless of whether they are
members or non-members.
Union shall not act in an arbitrary, bad faith or
discriminatory manner with respect to any
bargaining unit employee.
DUTY OF FAIR
DFR applies to the processing of grievances
To avoid a claim that the DFR has been breached:
Act promptly to investigate grievances or complaints
brought to your attention
Talk to witnesses who the grievant has identified
Keep accurate records of each grievance
Promptly engage the Welder Foreman and/or
Keep the employee informed of what you are doing to
address the grievance.
The United States Supreme Court held in NLRB v. J. Weingarten that an
employee has a right to the presence of a union representative during an
An investigatory interview occurs when the Foreman, Superintendent
or other management asks questions of an employee to obtain
information that could be used later as the basis for discipline.
To invoke this right, the employee must make a clear request for union
representation as soon as he realizes employer is seeking information
that may be used as a basis for discipline. The employee cannot be
disciplined for making this request.
The Employer is not required to ask the employee if he wants the
The Steward will typically be the Union representative who
grant the request and delay questioning until the Steward
arrives and has spoken privately with the employee;
or deny the request and end the interview immediately until
It is an unfair labor practice if management refuses to provide
representation, and insists on proceeding with the interview after
employee has invoked Weingarten rights.
Employee cannot be disciplined for refusing to answer.
But Employee should not leave until interview has been
Distinguish an investigatory interview from
management’s conveying a decision that has already
been made to impose discipline
Stewards have the following rights during investigatory
The right to be informed of the subject matter of the
interview (for example, the type of misconduct for which
discipline is being considered);
The right to speak on behalf of the employee during the
The right to have the supervisor clarify any question so
that the employee can understand what he or she is
The right to give advice to an employee as to how to
answer a question (but, stewards cannot tell an
employee not to answer a question or give a false
The right to provide additional information after the
The Duty to Provide information
NLRA requires employers to provide unions with information relevant to
collective bargaining and contract enforcement.
NLRA provides unions with the right to request:
Information relating to the employer’s compliance with the NPLA;
Information needed to prepare for grievance meetings;
Information with respect to whether or not to pursue a grievance in
later steps of the grievance procedure; and
Typically, requests are made by the Business Manager but Stewards
may request information too if necessary to do their job.
We Need You . . .
To represent all UA workers on our
To help the UA enforce the NPLA
To keep the UA strong