Steward Spotlight: Region 6
What started as an interest in a free lunch has blossomed into nearly a decade of union activism for MAPE Region 6 Chief Steward Deb Hagel. It wasn’t until the state shutdown in 2011 that Hagel felt the power that comes in numbers as a union.
“We had all gathered by the Capitol and we were voting on whether or not to strike,” Hagel recalled. “Our community formed and we all became more aware of each other and it really joined us together as a union.”
The following year, Hagel’s business agent invited her to a steward meeting.
“Now I became a steward and a year later the chief steward position opened up,” Hagel said.
Hagel would serve as chief steward for a number of years before stepping back to free up some personal time. Someone else stepped up into the chief steward role, and Hagel was grateful to have her region covered. Flash forward a couple years and the chief steward role would once again open, and Hagel would be tapped for the role.
“We have some really great stewards - 17 of them to be exact,” Hagel said. “We’re very active and it’s been a lot of fun.”
She said when she was previously chief steward there wasn’t as much action or interest in the work as there is now.
“Now this group really jumps to the call and it’s a really good feeling,” she said. “The chief before me found a way to get people jazzed and involved and I’ve tried to keep that energy going.”
Region 6 has a mix of new and seasoned stewards ready to assist members with contract questions, policies and procedures, and anything else that might help draw fellow members into their union.
“I’m thankful to do this alongside some really cool people who care about others and want to help them out and are curious about what the union can do to help their colleagues and fellow MAPE members,” Hagel said. “Being a steward changed me. It makes me more confident and presses me to figure out new ways to do things.”
Hagel encourages any MAPE members interested in getting more involved in the union to start by becoming a steward.
“If you like to help people, take one big read through the contract, get to know it, and join us!”