1199SEIU delegates are the elected rank-and-file leadership of our union. Like “stewards” in other unions, our delegates are workers on the job who are democratically chosen by their co-workers to represent the voice of the union in their institutions. Delegate elections are generally conducted by department and/or shift. Delegates meet in their chapters and also at in regional, divisional and union-wide assemblies. Our 1199SEIU Executive Council, the highest elected body of the union, includes dozens of delegates who represent various job classifications and all the geographical settings in which the 1199SEIU organizes.
Throughout 1199’s history, our delegates have been the backbone of our union; their leadership is vital to our collective bargaining, organizing and political campaigns. Delegates are absolutely crucial in mobilizing our members. Without our delegates, 1199SEIU could not have grown into the strong, influential union it has become.
A union delegate is an employee just like you. They have a job to do every day, and they answer to the same management that you do. The key difference, though, is that a union delegate has the training, the tools and the protections to help you and other employees solve problems at work!
If you have a problem at work, your delegate can help you. Delegates have been trained by the union and have special legal protections that enable them to stand up for employees when management is not being reasonable.
The job of a union delegate involves:
When you think you are in trouble. If you have a meeting with management that you believe is an investigatory interview with the possible purpose of taking disciplinary action against you, you have the right to have your union delegate at the meeting. This is also known as exercising your Weingarten Rights. …When you have a problem that needs solving. A term you may be familiar with is "filing a grievance." A grievance is an allegation that management has violated the terms of your union contract. Not every problem is a contract violation and not every problem requires a grievance. Regardless of whether your issue is a formal grievance or another problem, your delegate is a resource and may have other ways, both formal and informal, for solving problems.
Your delegate will make sure to inform members about what is going on in the union by dsitributing informational leaftlets, putting information on the union bulletin board and by simply talking to people. Your delegate also plays the role of feeding your ideas and issues back into the other parts of the union, such as the staff, vice presidents and executive officers.
Your delegate will work to make sure workers understand their rights, the contract, and any important issues the union is working on.
Organizing and Mobilizing Members
This is considered the union delegates' #1 job. The strength of our union at any point in time is the total energy and support of the members who can be mobilized. When more members get involved, we accomplish more — at our workplaces as well as statewide. All the other work delegates do — representation, communication and education — is done with an eye to strengthening and increasing member involvement in the union.