Managing relationships in a unionized environment

Last updated: January 18, 2018

Establishing and maintaining good relationships with union stewards and employees contributes to a positive labour relations environment, and a healthier and productive work place.

Establishing a good relationship with the union steward

At the beginning of your relationship, before there is a grievance, meet privately to agree that:

  • Both parties are bound by the collective agreement, each having rights and obligations
  • Both parties are bound by the Standards of Conduct for public service employees
  • Both parties are to be treated with respect, regardless of grievance outcomes
  • Both parties may have different views but will strive to agree on a middle ground
  • It is normal for either person to make mistakes. Both parties will admit to mistakes, correct them and move forward
  • If the issue does not have a middle ground, stalemates can be resolved in other ways
  • Patience and time is needed to evaluate each other’s position
  • It is a normal for supervisors to ask the union steward for help resolving difficult issues
  • It is normal for the union steward to tell a supervisor or manager about potential employee issues

Maintaining a good relationship with the union steward

To maintain a positive working relationship:

  • Be objective at all times
  • Value the employee's point of view
  • Present facts honestly
  • Inform the union steward of important decisions
  • Only make commitments you can keep
  • Be prepared to discuss some matters in private
  • Fully explain the reason behind a grievance denial and include specific collective agreement references


For information about legislation, collective agreements and processes such as grievances and arbitration, review Managing employees in a unionized environment

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