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Building Employee Representative Training

Trained building employee representatives (BERs) fulfill one of the most important roles in OSEA’s union family. Also known as BERs or worksite reps, they are the conduit for communicating worksite issues and chapter information between employees, chapter officers, and OSEA staff.  Along with chapter officers, concerned and well-trained BERs are the heart and backbone of a strong OSEA chapter.

Chapters try to have a BER in each worksite.  For that reason, BERs may well have the first opportunity to introduce OSEA to a new employee or a non-member.  In that position, BERs are also the continuous face of the union for co-workers and management.  Does your chapter want to organize a training session so that its BERs can better function as the eyes, ears, and sometimes legs and arms of the union?

Trained BERs can be the difference between the union having power in the worksite and being powerless.  Therefore, OSEA’s training encourages BER’s to have an active role in their worksites.  In a strong chapter, employees can count on BERs to refer them to the right place if they have a question about the contract, the union, or some other important workplace concern.  BERs are the hub for union information.  However, BERs are usually not involved in handling grievances or representing employees – trained stewards and field representatives do that.

The goals of the training are to provide BERs with the inspiration, education, and confidence to keep the union visible in the workplace.  These are key ingredients for activists in a strong member-run union.  Training topics may include:

  • How to maintain the OSEA bulletin board
  • Effective worksite communications
  • Basic information about OSEA and our affiliate union, AFT
  • Communicating to chapter officers and the Field Representative
  • Weingarten rights
  • How to sign up new members and increase participation

OSEA staff conducts the training.  Training time can vary from a short half-hour orientation to a longer two hours of more in-depth education.  The training can be tailored to fit specific chapter needs.

If your chapter has not recently done so, OSEA strongly encourages you to take advantage of BER training.  Maybe you’re interested in volunteering to be a BER and want more information – the satisfaction of knowing you can make a difference in someone’s life and your chapter is a worthy reward!  To schedule a training session for the BERs in your chapter, please contact your field representative.