Steward Resources

Your Rights as a Shop Steward

As a steward, you have a lot of rights on the job in representing your members; rights that your boss would prefer you didn’t know about. A steward’s job can mean confrontations with the boss – confrontations that could get you fired in your role as an employee. The NLRA (labor law) recognizes this fact and provides three specific protections for stewards involving:

  • Equal Standing
  • No Reprisals
  • Equal Treatment


Don’t let the boss con you!

As a Shop Steward, you’ve been chosen to represent the members in your work place. A job that most bosses would like to keep you from doing. Here’s a brief list of some of your rights and obligations.

  • You have the RIGHT to grieve about unfair treatment whether you saw it happen or someone calls it to your attention. Bosses may accuse you of “soliciting grievances,” but don’t be fooled! It’s your duty to encourage workers to grieve about legitimate issues – or file them yourself.
  • You have the RIGHT to carry out investigations of grievances, including interviews of grievant and witnesses. Some contracts provide for investigation on “company time.” For those that don’t, there is often a clear past practice that allows this. But, if not, every grievance must be investigated thoroughly, even on your own time if needed.
  • You have the RIGHT to organize and encourage your fellow workers to do the same in support of an issue or grievance, so long as it doesn’t take place on work time and interfere with production. The boss can’t stop you from getting people to wear stickers, sign petitions, carry signs, or take similar actions on break or lunch time. (Of course, stickers, buttons and caps can be worn all the time, unless there’s a special reason for a dress code.)
  • You have the RIGHT to request from management, the information you need to process a grievance. You should put these requests in writing. Management is obligated to respond.
  • You have the RIGHT to be present in any meeting between the boss and an employee if it might lead to discipline (Members’ Rights)
  • You have the RIGHT to be present every time a grievance is being “adjusted” or settled. Even if a worker has taken up the grievance on their own, the boss can’t bypass the union when responding.
  • You have the RIGHT to stand toe-to-toe with your boss when you’re conducting union business. You can get loud, angry, forceful, and speak your mind during grievance meetings. This is the “Equality Principle” that says you and the boss are equals in grievance discussions. All of these rights are legally guaranteed, but they depend on how well you use them. When you do, your members will find their rights are protected, too. 

All of these rights are legally guaranteed, but they depend on how well you
use them. When you do, your members will find their rights are protected, too.

A vital part of your job is to keep management from intimidating workers, especially when a boss is trying to get a member to admit to wrongdoing. Weingarten Rights won’t help if workers don’t know about them, because the boss doesn’t have to tell them. If they answer the questions, they’ve given up their right to representation.


  • Open Discussions to Closed-Doors
  • Don’t Wait
  • What Shop Stewards CAN DO
  • What Shop Stewards CAN’T DO
  • Everyone is Represented


Weingarten Rights are a powerful tool in doing your job of defending member’s rights. But remember, these rights are worthless if they are not enforced!!

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