Spring 2019

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a deep understanding of the situation in the workplace, the professional challenges inherent in performing a difficult job and the SAG-AFTRA contract that covers their unit — and they are backed up by staff. The combination of a knowledgeable member leader and professional staff works to support all of the members in the workplace. "I know a lot of companies, including my former management, knew only basics about the contract and how the union works. So it was important for me as a shop steward and our shop stewards at my station to be the first voice of the union. [We were] the first union representatives our new hires came into contact with," said SAG-AFTRA Vice President, Broadcasters Catherine Brown. Being fully versed in the contract, the shop steward is a valuable resource for employees. "There are certain people — like me — who really like to look at the contract, and there's other people who just want to go to work," said Richard Hake, the New York host of Morning Edition on WNYC who has served as a shop steward for more than a decade. "They probably don't care about that until something affects them, and if they don't understand it, I'm a person they can come to. And if I don't know the information, I'll call our [staff] representatives at SAG-AFTRA." IN YOUR CORNER In addition to serving as a liaison between employees and management on thorny issues, shop stewards can also act as advocates when employees face the threat of disciplinary action. It's a legal principle known as Weingarten (see page 44). "If someone does get called into HR, I can go with them. That can be a very scary thing for a person, especially if they don't know what's going to happen. 'Am I in trouble? Am I going to get counseled here?' I'm not part of the decision-making process, but to have a person who can go with you and report back is good," Hake said. From the perspective of a member focused on day-to-day work, having an advocate in your corner can improve the quality of work life, even when not dealing with disciplinary issues. Devin TALKING SHOP with SHOP STEWARDS Craig Dellimore, Political Editor, WBBM News Radio, Chicago; 1st VP Local Board and former president of the Chicago Local "You need to have someone who can help people get together. It's more a facilitator than anything else. It's also being the point person, so when there is a problem, you can not only be the one to go in and talk to management, but you also have the protection of knowing that the union is behind you." Christian Schaffer, Morning Anchor, WMAR-2 News in Baltimore, Maryland "What I've noticed at our station is that when there is an issue, the union tends to slow down the process and remove the emotion from it a little bit so that sense can be made. People can have conversations and figure things out in a sensible way. That should be the goal in any conflict, but unfortunately, it doesn't always work that way. In our shop, the union helps to make that possible." Christopher Cruise, News Anchor, Westwood One Radio Network "As a steward at AFGE … You go into a meeting that can be contentious … and management gives you a lot of respect. When we're acting as stewards, we are the equivalent of management. I am no longer beneath them. I'm their equal. We believe that our members deserve, not just representation, but the benefits of their work. And not just short term, but long term, whether it's health benefits, life benefits or pension. I'm working hard and well compensated, but I'm looking forward to retiring and I'm looking forward to my SAG-AFTRA pension." | Spring 2019 | SAG-AFTRA 43

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