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Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

From margin to center:

Local 768 trains future leaders

Photos By Mike Lee
Members look over informational material during Local 768’s Shop Steward Training.


Taking on duties and responsibilities of leadership in a union workplace are at the core of being a shop steward. Stewards play an integral role by working closely with co-workers, identifying management violations of the collective bargaining agreement, work practices and procedures, communicating workforce concerns, and representing the frontline of the union’s power.

A strong shop steward is experienced, has developed sound interpersonal skills, and is an effective representative in the workplace. NYC Health Care Employees Local 768 held its annual Shop Steward Training at DC 37 headquarters with almost 100 interested members from the city’s health care workforce. The intensive, all-day training Feb. 29 featured lively presentations and discussions from DC 37 staffers on issues that these would-be leaders may face as shop stewards.

Local 768 President Fitz Reid and Cynthia Keyes-Padilla, director of the union’s Hospital and Healthcare Professionals Division, opened the program by explaining the role and work of shop stewards.

Claire Menelas, assistant director of the DC 37 Education Fund, answered questions from members on the responsibilities and situations shop stewards may face in their work.

“You have the right to ask questions; that helps you and that helps everyone,” she said. “Some of your coworkers will need specific advice. You’re that person to talk to, and that is how you organize them.”

Assistant Director Michelle Trester from the union’s Research and Negotiations Department, explained the citywide contract language regarding payroll, RIP calculations, sick time, and other payroll issues. Steve Sykes, a lead attorney in the union’s Legal Department, talked about regulations and past practice.

“Workers are the power in their workplaces and the strength of their unions,” Reid said. “Our shop steward training is designed to improve solidarity among our members, encourage participation in the union, and enhance respect at the workplace.”