Want to take the lead at your worksite? Consider becoming a BCNU steward.
As a steward you will provide guidance to your co-workers on a host of work and sometimes non-work related concerns.
You will help members address problems and communicate crucial information about issues concerning your worksite and your profession.
As a steward you will also convey the ideals of BCNU—and articulate our vision of improving the work life, health and economic status of our members while being an advocate for public health care.
As a steward, you will inspire and mobilize members at your worksite.
Are you ready to lead?
Nominate yourself, or encourage a co-worker you respect to consider the role.
Review the documents below outlining the key expectations for steward participation, and learn more about the level of union activity required to qualify.
A job or role description outlines the tasks and responsibilities of a particular position. Competencies, in turn, are a description of the combined
skills, experience, attitudes and traits that a person draws upon in order to do well at the specific work their job or role involves.
New stewards are not expected to be highly competent in all the areas described below when they enter the role. What is essential is that all stewards possess a willingness and desire to learn and grow in these key areas – through education, team work and experience doing the work.
These steward competencies help individuals to plan and track their own development. Growth in these competency areas benefit stewards in their professional and personal lives, as well as in their union roles. These competencies also help to guide worksite steward team coordinators, BCNU regional leaders, and BCNU as an organization, in their efforts to provide support and training to stewards – our crucial frontline leaders.
Leadership means the ability to motivate self and others, build trusting relationships, use personal influence, and maintain a positive attitude in challenging circumstances. Leadership requires strong communication skills, keen self-awareness and self-management abilities. The three components of the BCNU steward leadership role include the ability to lead self, lead others and be the face of the union at the worksite.
Self-aware stewards are adept at examining their own emotional triggers, assumptions, biases, values, principles, strengths and limitations, and apply this awareness to managing their behaviours and interactions.
Stewards engage others through relationship building, personal influence, teamwork, communication, and role-modeling. Stewards pay active attention to the overall health and well being of the membership at their worksite.
Stewards operate with a leadership understanding that they are the face of the union at the worksite. They actively support the goals and positions of the organization, and work to enhance BCNU's positive reputation with members and others, at the worksite and beyond.
Stewards proactively work and advocate for just and healthy workplaces through formal and informal channels. They guide members through the collective agreement dispute resolution process and other collective agreement processes(e.g. PR process, DTAs) – from initial assessment of the issue(s) through to identification and implementation of solutions. They make clear, informed and well-documented decisions, including when to refer a matter on to an LRO or other staff. Stewards ensure that issues receive timely attention, and are tracked and followedup, through effective file management and communication with members.
Stewards understand their role and legal responsibilities as union representatives. They are (increasingly) familiar with how to read and interpret collective agreement language, and other supporting documentation (e.g. employer policies). They know where and how to access the information and support the need to conduct their labour relations work thoroughly.
Stewards carefully examine presenting issues and problems, probe for related issues, and think strategically about potential outcomes and best courses of action. Stewards form opinions and make decisions through investigative research, critical analysis of information, and the careful testing of assumptions and facts.
Stewards purposefully build connections, partnerships and networks to create results. They recognize that building and maintaining effective relationships is essential to strong labour relations practice and the building of an engaged membership at the worksite.
Stewards create systems that support the effective and efficient completion of work.
Stewards are able to draw on various skills, abilities and tools in responding to conflicts arising from differences in viewpoints, priorities, values, desires, and needs.
Stewards convey information and ideas in a clear and timely manner. They are aware of their own communication style and observant of the styles and needs of those they are engaging with, seeking input and feedback from others to strengthen exchanges. Stewards deliver information through a variety of different media and forms, selecting the one that best supports their goals and parameters.
Stewards can communicate information, thoughts and ideas clearly in different contexts to different stakeholders. They listen carefully and work to ensure they understand what others are saying, thinking and feeling.
Stewards write in a clear, concise, organized and convincing manner for the intended audience.
Stewards play a crucial leadership role, and act as the face of BCNU at the worksite level. They work actively and proactively, with members and management, to build safe, healthy, and respectful workplaces. They work alongside
members to advocate for health care workers' ability to deliver quality patient care. They understand and interpret collective agreements and help members to understand their rights under their contract. They guide and represent members through the grievance process when their rights are not being respected.
They support members in dealing with challenges related to health and safety, displacement, return to work, etc.
Work actively to build a sense of relationship between members and their union, through dialogue and communication, hosting of member events and creating meaningful opportunities for members to participate, connect and contribute
Promote a culture of health, safety and respect at the workplace
Develop a respectful working relationship with the employer
Educate members on the rights and processes contained in their collective agreement
Investigate, prepare for and conduct grievance meetings
Encourage and support members to bring patient care concerns forward through the PR Committee
Coordinate, and encourage member leadership and participation in BCNU campaigns
Participate at regional and provincial levels of BCNU
Stewards play a leadership role in promoting and advocating for a culture of health and safety at the worksite.
They support members in a broad range of health and safety areas, in consultation with staff and elected representatives. This involves educating members on their rights, guiding them around processes and timelines and advocating for their fair treatment in relation to illness and disability.
Understand the Workers Compensation Act, the OH&S Regulation and collective agreement articles addressing health and safety
Advise members about their rights and responsibilities with respect to health and safety
Represent the interests of BCNU members on their worksite Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee
Support members who refuse unsafe work
Support members to report all OH&S hazards and incidents to their employer, even if there is no injury
Participate in employer OH&S incident investigations and advocate for corrective actions to protect member health and safety
Support members following a workplace incident
Investigate workplace hazards and safety concerns and advocate for preventive action in areas of concern
Participate in the OH&S risk assessment processes and workplace inspections
Participate in worksite visits and inspections conducted by WorkSafeBC
Encourage member participation and leadership in efforts to promote health and safety at the worksite, engaging them through education, dialogue and health and safety related events
File grievances when the health and safety provisions of the collective agreement are contravened
Support members with return to work and duty to accommodate issues (in some workplaces only)
Refers members to OH&S Department if they have questions about WSBC/LTD claims or need assistance with appeals
Some stewards are drawn, as advocates and professionals, to promote and support members' use of the Professional Responsibility Process provided for in their collective agreement. The PR process allows for issues related to workload, patient safety and nurses' ability to practice to standard to be brought forward and heard. Stewards play a crucial role in educating members on their PR-related rights and supporting them to utilize this unique tool to advocate for their patients and their practice.
PR EDUCATION TRAINS AND SUPPORTS STEWARDS TO:
Understand the PR process language in the collective agreement and advise members on their rights and responsibilities in initiating the PR process
Model and advocate for the PR process guiding principles
Educate and assist members to complete PR forms and support members through the PR process
Track the initiation, progress, and outcomes of the PR process, encouraging good documentation and adherence to process timelines
Attend PR Committee meetings as a member advocate and coach members in articulating their concerns and resolutions
Help in the establishment of PR committees, ensuring members are familiar with the committee structure and roles
Work collaboratively with management to ensure that the PR process is understood and implemented
As a steward, you will be able to work proactively with management and advocate for BCNU members. You will gain knowledge and develop skills to help you use BCNU's problem-solving tools (grievances, PR process, JOHS committees, and union-management meetings) and resolve workplace concerns. You will feel the satisfaction of doing important leadership work that directly benefits you and your colleagues.
As a steward, you have the power to make a real difference in your workplace. Our collective agreements are powerful contracts that set the rules for fair and equitable practices. Stewards are the leaders who make sure these rules, and other rules related to fairness and equity (like human rights legislation), are respected in the workplace.
Your union has fought to include hundreds of rights in your collective agreement. Throughout the career of any member, these rights can make a big difference, at work and beyond. As a steward, you will come to understand these rights and learn how to advocate effectively for others.
Good working conditions for nurses and other health care workers help to ensure patients receive the care they need. As a steward, you do work that directly impacts patient care – from monitoring safety concerns and ensuring staff get the breaks and leaves they deserve, to speaking out on staffing issues.
As a steward, you will receive a wide variety of training that prepares you for the work you do. This high quality education, reinforced by the leadership experience you will gain, will increase your competence and confidence in a number of areas that go well beyond your steward work – from effective advocacy and presentation skills to the ability to handle conflict and communication well.
These educational opportunities are accompanied by multiple opportunities each year to gather with other stewards from across your region and the province to share ideas, support one another's efforts and build strong relationships that often last a lifetime.
Stewards are asked to commit to a three-year term. Over the first year you will learn the basics of the steward's role. During the second year you may discover a passion and choose to specialize in a particular area of steward practice, growing your skills and knowledge in new directions. By the third year, you will have mastered many skills and be ready to take on new roles and mentor others.
As you map out and travel on this journey, you will receive support and mentorship from others on your team, and from the labour relations officer (LRO) assigned to your worksite. LROs bring a wealth of experience with grievances and any issues that are proving hard to resolve, so stewards know they can seek support in the work they take on.
There is no one type of person who makes the perfect BCNU steward. Every steward contributes their own experience and skills, and steward teams benefit from this diversity. Some of our most effective stewards are quiet people, with strong listening skills or creative minds. They are very powerful in grievance meetings. Others are very social – they are great at networking, and keeping their finger on the pulse of the worksite.
What is required of those who step up to the steward role is a strong desire to grow and learn, to be a role model and leader at the worksite and to advocate for yourself, your colleagues and for safe patient care.
BCNU provides significant resources to stewards, including education in leadership, labour relations, conflict resolution, and communication. Although much of your steward time for union activities is usually paid, a spirit of volunteerism is required to thrive as a member-driven union.
If you are NOT receiving updates, news, and events emailed to you, log in to the BCNU Member Portal and update your information.