BCGEU stewards should bookmark this page and check regularly for news and information.
Our aim is to make you the most effective representative for your members possible.
The Steward newsletter
- The perils of posting to Facebook;
- Addictions and workplace misconduct;
- Mitigating lost income - an update;
- A criminal investigation at the workplace;
- Latest arbitration award summaries.
Download the current issue of The Steward.
Click here for back printed issues of The Steward.
- BCGEU structure
- Role of the steward
- Stewards' rights/duties
- Grievance procedures
- Tips for stewards
- BCGEU forms
- ...and more
BCGEU Arbitration Awards of Interest to Stewards
Are you Interested in Becoming a Steward?
Contact your nearest area office.
Resources for Stewards
Employment Insurance Appeal Decisions Favourable to Workers. BCGEU stewards may be interested in a database entitled "Employment Insurance Appeal Decisions Favourable to Workers."
The database contains a collection of Canadian Umpire decisions (CUBs) where all decisions rendered were favourable to workers.
Click on table of contents at the bottom of the page.
Click here for information on union education programs.
The Role of the Steward
Every worksite should have a steward. This person is the face of the union at your worksite. The steward's role is to enforce the collective agreement and protect your rights. Your steward was elected by the members at your worksite. Some workplaces have more than one steward who may represent a specific department or area. It's important to be able to identify your steward should you have questions about the union or require their assistance. Contact the BCGEU if you need assistance with this.
Stewards do more than deal with grievances and complaints at the worksite.
• Act as liaison between the worksite, the local and the area offices.
• Sign up new members to the union at the worksite.
• Encourage you to attend local meetings to learn more about matters that affect you.
• Help you interpret and understand their collective agreement rights.
• Communicate about local and union issues and educational opportunities.
• Ensures the union bulletin board is current.
• Refers members to committees on specific issues, such as the Labour Management and Occupational Health and Safety.
• Listens to you.
• Advises or refers you to the appropriate people whi can deal with WCB appeals, STIIP/LTD issues, unemployment insurance issues and classification appeals.
For Members and Stewards
It's important factually present any grievance you're filing. As the member filing a grievance, you need to give your steward as many facts as possible.
Here are six things to remember when filing a grievance:
1. WHO is involved? The member's (your) full name, employer, branch or division, title and job classification. Names and titles of supervisors or witnesses need to be accurate.
2. WHAT happened that caused the violation of the collective agreement? Were you disciplined? Was substitution pay not given? Were there safety violations? You need to tell the story in chronological order.
3. WHEN did the violation occur? Ensure dates and times are included and accurate.
4. WHERE did it occur? Give exact location or locations if event occurred in different places. You may be asked to produce photos or drawings.
5. WHY is this considered to be a grievance or complaint? Was there a direct violation of an article(s) in the collective agreement? Was it a code or act violation, an arbitral award violation or past practice issue?
6. WANT adjustments or remedies are required to correct the injustice. Always ask for "full redress" in order to make the member whole, ie., all wages lost, file cleared, vacation returned.
What is a grievance?
A grievance is a violation of the employee's rights on the job. It's the steward's job to determine what right was violated and if the grievance is legitimate. For instance, is it a complaint or an official grievance?
1. Most employees' rights are contained in the collective agreement. This is the first place you, a member or a steward, must look. If the grievance is a clear cut violation of the contract, it will be easy to prove. If it's an interpretive issue, winning can be more difficult. Your union will help you understand why.
2. Violation of federal or provincial Law. Here you may be filing a grievance or dealing directly with the appropriate agency to deal with the issue or you may do both. It may be a health and safety violation or human rights violation. Both meaning dealing with a separate agency. Most collective agreements have specified language outlining whether a grievance should or shouldn't be filed.
3. Violation of past practice in the workplace. This can be the basis for a grievance, particularly in areas where the contract is silent or unclear. Where a past practice has been violated by the management, an employee may have a real grievance. To be considered as a past practice, the circumstances must have been:
a. repeated over an extended period of time;
b. accepted explicitly or implicitly by both workers and management, e.g. by verbal agreement or in writing without either side formally objecting; or
c. while violating the contract, neither side has demanded that this part of the contract be enforced.
4. Complaints must be dealt with. If you think your rights have been violated, see your steward. He/she will investigate and let you know whether a violation has occurred. If not, the steward will clearly explain why.
Types of Grievances
A steward can classify grievances according to where they come from and how they arise. We also classify grievances according to who is affected.
1. Individual grievance. A complaint alleging an action by management has violated the rights of an individual as set out in the collective agreement, law or some unfair practice. The steward will file the grievance and require your signature so that it can be processed. When an individual's right have been violated and she/he refuses to sign a grievance, the steward may still file the grievance on behalf of the union. In this way, the collective agreement is still being defended and it shows management the union will not acquiesce. If you don't file, it's possible the employer will continue violating the agreement. If and when you do get around to filing you may lose because you acquiesced.
2. Group Grievance. A complaint by a group of workers, a department, or shift, affected in the same way and at the same time by a management action. An example would be a shift not paid a premium pay as per the agreement.
3. Policy grievance. A complaint by the union alleging an action of management, or its failure for refusal to act, is a violation of the agreement that could affect the members covered. A policy grievance normally relates to the interpretation of the contract rather than the complaint of an individual. A steward often doesn't deal with this directly or complete the standard grievance form. The steward informs union staff who will send a letter, stating that the issue is one of policy. The issue will move automatically to Step 3 or the arbitration procedure of the agreement.
4. Union grievance. This grievance involves the issue where the union's rights have been violated. The grievance is from the union itself. An example of this is an employer who didn't deduct union dues or didn't allow union leave to the bargaining committee.