New Stewards Graduate in Westchester

JUNE 20 -- TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano presided over a graduation ceremony Wednesday for 22 Westchester members and officers who completed shop steward training.  The graduates, who attended training sessions by veteran labor educator Robert Wechsler, received their certificates at the Local 100 satellite office in Yonkers from President Utano, School Bus/Paratransit Division Chairman Gus Moghrabi, Private Lines V.P. Peter Rosconi and Senior Organizing Director Frank McCann.


Utano told the newly minted stewards during the ceremony not to be timid. “You are equal to management,” Utano said. “Don’t let management fool you. Sometimes you have to stand up to these bosses and let them know, ‘You need to respect me. I’m the union.’  Utano added: “I’ll tell you, you will have the support of Local 100. You will have our backing.” 


This was the first class of a revived and revamped shop steward training program, Utano said. Its members came from five different school bus companies in Yonkers. The training covered a range of topics, including: how to connect and communicate effectively with members; how to file a grievance; the right to organize; and the core goals of a union.


One particularly important point Wechsler stressed was the need to educate members about their right under the law to have a union member present in meetings with management that could entail or lead to disciplinary action by the employer. A union representative can ask questions, ask for documentation and even halt the meeting to talk privately with the member.  “It’s in their interest to have the union in there,” Wechsler said.

Viviana Guzman, a bus driver for First Mile Square for 10 years, said she wanted to become a shop steward “to learn the rights of workers and to make sure they are protected.” This was echoed by Yiri Collado, a driver for Royal Coach for 5 years. “I wanted to work in TWU to be more prepared to help members,” Collado said.