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Performance Management
The Special Status of Union Stewards
If you are in a Human Resource (HR) section of an agency where some of the employees are represented by a Union, you will have the opportunity to work with individuals selected by the union membership to represent the union employee’s interests. An applicable Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) may outline rules a steward must follow in their steward role. For more information about union stewards, contact the DAS Labor Relations Unit.
 
Under labor law, stewards and union officers have a protected legal status. When engaged in representational activities, stewards are considered to be equals with management. Three rules apply to stewards in recognition of their need to vigorously advocate when representing an employee.  These rules are:
 
The Equality Rule: Allows a steward to raise a voice, gesture, challenge management’s claim of truthfulness, threaten legal action or raise the possibility of group protests. The employer cannot label this behavior as insubordinate and impose discipline. This rule applies only when a steward acts in his or her representational capacity.  If you are unsure whether a steward is acting in his or her representational role you can ask the steward to clarify in which role he or she is acting.
 
The No-Reprisal Rule: A steward cannot be punished or threatened with punishment because management considers his or her grievances to be overly frequent, petty or offensively written.  Reprisals against stewards are unfair labor practices. For example, an employer violates the no-reprisal rule if it segregates a steward from other workers, deprives a steward of overtime or other benefits, or transfers a steward to a different job or shift, just because the employee is a steward.
 
The Same Standards Rule: When carrying out their work assignments, stewards should be treated no worse and no better than any other employee. Employers must apply the same standards to stewards as they do to other employees. Employers cannot say, “Of all people, you're supposed to know the rules,” then impose discipline for failure to meet a higher standard.