Steward Profile: Matthew Beson

1. What made you want to become a Steward?
During my 10 years of employment within the Nova Scotia Government it became clear that many of my colleagues, supervisors and mangers struggled with understanding the language of the collective agreement. As a result, I decided to take a more engaged approach to assist us within our work environment to be more informed and potential resource.

2. What issues do you typically deal with in your workplace as a Steward?
The frequent issues that come to my attention are interpretation of the collective agreement, clarification of roles of responsibilities and guidance. More often than not clarification leads to adjusting decisions and working together. If situations arise you are the connect point to the staff at the union office.

3. Have you faced any discrimination in the workplace by stepping forward to become a Steward?
Initially, I would suggest that some reference had been made in an unfavourable light. However, the importance is about education and understanding. Working towards trust, respect and guidance removed those references.

4. What kind of skills has being a Steward given you?
Often colleagues come to you upset and emotionally charged. I believe listening and seeking an understanding of the reason someone has reached out to you is important. Gaining trust, respecting your fellow union members is the upmost importance. Have and open ear, document, act and follow through with your commitment.

5. Would you recommend other people become a Steward in their workplace? Why or why not?
I believe the more people that take advantage of opportunities to learn about this vital role the more knowledge your offices and workplace will have. As we can all attest, workplace demands, staffing issues and expectations are at an all-time high. Developing skills to educate, understand and guide our members is critical to our success for a respectful and enjoyable workplace experience.

*This article appeared in the spring edition of The Union Stand.

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