I am an active member in a local with do-nothing officials. There is no steward in my area for over 200 workers! I’ve decided to run for steward, but when I contacted the union about setting up an election, they won’t set one up. I am willing to serve as steward and many workers in my area already come to me with their problems. How can we get an election?
– Shut Out in Chicago
Dear Shut Out,
It’s a shame that any local leadership would act in a way to decrease union strength and solidarity, just to keep the membership powerless.
First of all, check your local’s bylaws—they’re the constitution for your local. You can request a copy from the union, or contact TDU. Find out what the rules are for calling a new stewards election. Some bylaws may be silent, but some would help in this situation.
If the local doesn’t respond, it’s time to get the members involved. Write a short and respectful letter to the local requesting an election, then get as many of your co-workers as possible to sign it.
If you still don’t get an election, you may have to file charges or take other appropriate action. Don’t get hung up on the technicalities. TDU can help, so call and speak to one of the TDU organizers.
It may take some effort, but in most cases it can be done. But, getting an election is only your first problem. Next, you’ll have to get elected, which gives you a reason to keep talking to your co-workers, especially in a big shop like yours. Get some key people who are respected to help you.
As a steward, especially for a large group, you may find yourself rather busy. Members will have expectations, questions and sometimes even be a pain in the butt. You’ll need to keep involving members who can help, and keep educating yourself, so you can do a good job for your union and co-workers. TDU can help with this part, too. Helping educate stewards is one of our priorities.