NUHW stewards pass internal organizing resolution

NewsOctober 9, 2023

NUHW stewards passed a resolution at our 2023 Leadership Conference in Los Angeles that promises to build our strength at every workplace.

The resolution empowers stewards to take on roles previously handled in many workplaces by union staff, including taking the lead on disciplinary and grievance hearings as well as Labor-Management Committee meetings and performing New Hire Orientations.

Each steward council will designate stewards with appropriate training to perform these duties. Education and training courses will be made available to ensure that stewards have the skills and resources to do the job well.

The resolution won’t be implemented immediately. Each steward council will report on its progress at the 2024 Leadership Conference. 

A similar resolution was passed in NUHW’s predecessor union three decades ago, a period that was marked by strong union growth and strong, independent steward leadership. 

During discussions about the resolution on Sunday, Erika Olden, a steward at Providence Cedars Sinai Tarzana Medical Center, noted that “management reacts a whole lot differently when we, the stewards, stand up and take control in bargaining, in investigatory meetings, in grievance meetings.

“When management gets used to dealing with union staff, they think they can get away with anything when union staff is not around,” she added. ”But we’re on the job every day. The more we stand up to management — the more we push back when it’s necessary and they experience us behaving as their equals — the more management has to respect us and uphold our union contract.”

The resolution is rooted in NUHW’s 10-year vision, approved by stewards during the 2019 Leadership Conference. The vision called for NUHW to be “a beacon of member action and empowerment” and “a shining example of what workers can achieve by organizing together.” 

To further build internal steward leadership, the resolution calls for committing “the necessary resources to recruit and train a steward in every department and on every shift.”

Stewards across NUHW had been discussing the resolution prior to the Leadership Conference and will continue meeting about how best to implement it over the next year. 

During the conference, stewards had several suggestions for helping implement the resolution including the possible technology improvements that would give people easier access to their contracts and their steward’s contact information. 

Other suggestions included hosting events to help members understand their contractual rights, and leaning on retired stewards to help them with their new responsibilities.