Duty of fair representation

MAPE, as the exclusive bargain unit representative for general State of Minnesota professional employees, takes on a responsibility to fairly represent all such employees, regardless of their membership status and personal attributes. As a steward — in other words as an official representative of the union — you take on the same responsibility.

That means that regardless of your personal opinion of the affected employee, you must act in good faith to represent that employee to the best of your ability. Further, it means that a steward does not get to choose which employees that he/she will represent. If an employee has legitimate concerns, it is your duty to advocate for him/her. It does not mean, however, that you must necessarily do what the represented employee demands, must take all grievances to the arbitration level, or must file a grievance every time a represented employee registers a complaint. In other words, you as a steward are bound by the duty of fair representation but not to the point that you suspend your own judgment as to what the best course of action is for the represented employee in the specific situation that he or she finds herself.

Failure to adhere to the duty of fair representation is a serious matter as it can leave the union liable for damages, including for discrimination.