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A local union may have a number of active committees. Some are standing committees, usually with budgets, as laid out in the local’s by-laws. Others may be created ad-hoc as special needs arise. Members who serve on these committees may be elected or appointed, depending on the local union’s practice. In most cases, these committees will be most successful if they represent the diversity of the local’s membership. Examples of standing committees would be Health and Safety, Equality, Contracting Out or Political Action.

CUPE has handbooks and guides to assist local executive members understand their role and organize their work. For assistance, members can contact their CUPE Representative or the http://cupe.ca/www/UnionEducation Union Development Department.


Stewards are local union members who help members solve problems and organize within the local. A steward’s key role is to be a vital link between the membership and the local’s elected leaders.

Some of a steward’s duties include: day to day contact with members, handling and investigating members’ complaints, filing grievances for contract violations, supporting members at grievance hearings, meeting with other stewards, documenting problems in the workplace and informing the executive.


Member communicators take on the job of communicating with their co-workers on behalf of their local. Communicators are responsible for talking about and circulating (or collecting) any materials channeled through them by the local’s executive.

Communicators are not expected to have answers to members’ questions or handle grievances. They are a two-way channel for questions or answers and verbal or written union information flowing back-and-forth between the executive and members.

A network of communicators is a fast way to distribute information within the local. It guarantees that union information reaches and is read by every member – crucial if an important decision needs to be made.

For more on setting up a communicator network, download Communicating CUPE.