Steward Spotlight: Region 5
Region 5 Chief Steward Maureen Dunaway joined the union “on day one” when she started her career with the State 11 years ago, despite starting at the Dept. of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) as a temporary unclassified (TU) employee. It wouldn’t be until a few years later, as a classified employee, that Dunaway would answer the call to become more active in MAPE.
“I was at a MAPE meeting and they said they needed more stewards and I thought, ‘Oh I could do that,’” recalled Dunaway. “So I did steward training and became a steward five years ago.”
Not long after, Dunaway joined the DEED Meet and Confer Team and later became her region’s Negotiations Team representative.
“The rest is kind of history,” she said. “Being a steward and on the negotiations team go hand-in-hand; I wanted to have some influence on the contract I helped enforce.”
Becoming chief of her region’s stewards “happened accidentally,” Dunaway said, when the current chief stepped down and her enforcement business agent asked her to step up.
“I like being there for members when they need us most,” she said about her reason for stepping up. “Members are going through a hard time and there’s a misconception we only help the bad members, and that’s not true.”
Stewards are often sought out as experts on contract questions and things like benefits. Dunaway recalled one member who used all her sick leave caring for her sick mom, and was out of leave by the time her mother passed and she needed to help plan and attend her mom’s funeral.
“I helped her get the advance time off,” Dunaway said. “Stewarding goes beyond just helping people who screw up. People need help with different types of leaves and knowing their rights before meeting with management.”
Dunaway said stewards can help level the playing field when it’s an “us versus them” mentality with a bad manager. Or maybe an employee really did make a mistake and needs a steward’s support.
“Maybe you did screw up but it shouldn't follow you for the rest of your life,” she said. “We help you work through it and you get on with the rest of your career. Whatever it is, we’re there to help you get through.”
Not only does stewarding complement the negotiations process, but it also helps Dunaway in her role on the DEED Meet and Confer team. Regardless of where she’s helping, this MAPE leader wants all members to know that stewards are always one call or email away.
“A lot of what we do is invisible. But it’s vital,” she said. “Always reach out with questions. Don’t wait. Come to us. We will help.”