The following are some of the tools I find effective for being a steward at UPS.
1. Establish relationships with management.
Much as you would like to berate, and punish your manager for their indiscretions, a quality business-like relationship will benefit you and your membership a great deal more than constantly being on the fight. While it doesn’t hurt to have an occasional go-round with them, a good relationship is key when it comes to the major cases.
2. Listen carefully.
Very often you will gain valuable information just by overhearing the conversations of others. (Yes they do it to You!) Casual comments in the office, or even in the guard shack can alert you to issues or information that may help you in cases you may be involved in. You can also pick up on the nuances of how one management person relates to another. This knowledge can be very valuable in trying to settle important cases.
3. Build a sense of trust between yourself, your union membership, and management.
It’s very simple. People won’t confide in you if they don’t trust you. You must respect the privacy of the individual be it a member you are representing, or a manager that is bringing you a problem. If you betray that trust, you may never get it back.
4. Regardless of your relationships, let all parties know in no uncertain terms that you will represent the union, and your members with everything you have.
To quote Teddy Roosevelt “speak softly, but carry a big stick”, or something like that. Everyone involved must understand that you are ready to fight. It’s the tool you must save for the right occasion, but it’s the tool you need to brandish on occasion.
Remember also that a fight in front of the membership is worth ten times more than a fight behind closed doors.