Announcing the Return of the Fast Track Leadership Apprenticeship Program for Stewards (LAPS)
Job Stewards are the foundation and the power behind our union; they connect members to their union and to one another, amplify member voices in the workplace and in the community, and ensure that no workplace is without fair representation. That is why, after an 18-month gap, SEIU Local 1000 is bringing back the Leadership Apprentice Program for Stewards (LAPS) in a new and improved format. The Fast Track LAPS Program will be more cost effective, faster, and provide job stewards with the skills and connections necessary to hit the ground running.
The Fast Track program contains all of the basic job steward training from the old LAPS program necessary to get new job stewards up to speed quickly after getting their job steward certification, while cutting the 6-month apprenticeship into a 2-month training. “It’s still the same training that you would get in the 6-month portion,” said SEIU Local 1000 Vice President Anica Walls. “But the goal here is to really build relationships between the stewards and their DLC’s board so that the stewards are integrated in a way they haven’t been before.”
Given the long gap in time since new job stewards have been trained, covering the entire pandemic, it’s essential that our steward training programs be able to adapt to the changing conditions organizers and members face. When SEIU Local 1000 began representing employees at the State Bar while they were fully remote, developing a virtual training program to get job stewards in place at that department was critical to the success of the organizing work being done there. “Our Fast Track for the State Bar was our first virtual program,” said Vice President Walls, “I used that to develop the basic calendar for the Fast Track program, with modifications to make it relevant to other state departments. With all our ASTs (Advanced Steward Trainings) being done over Zoom, we can be way more effective by taking advantage of all the opportunities in front of us.”
This new program showed that job steward training could be done online, and the implementation of Fast Track has already been successful. The first cohort of Fast Track Graduates saw 64 people get certified through the entirely virtual program. “Our goal is to get at least one job steward at every worksite,” said Vice President Walls. “Hopefully, this shorter program can get more people involved. The mere fact that it’s up and running virtually is huge after it had been down for 18 months.”
The cost savings of this new program are important too, allowing the program to cost-effectively train more people than before. By replacing the shadow week, which uses paid union leave, as well as new savings on food and lodging for the trainings, the Fast Track program costs significantly less to implement than the previous LAPS program. More people in the virtual program creates another a major advantage of Fast Track. Since job stewards can be trained together from anywhere in California at no extra cost, job stewards in the same classification and department can share knowledge and connections with job stewards across the state. These kinds of connections are incredibly useful in the future, as job stewards look to each other for support and to share solutions to problems in their worksite. “It’s important to develop our job stewards,” said Walls. “They’re the backbone of our organization.”
The next Fast Track class is scheduled to run in January 2022. The application process and downloadable documents are available here for anyone interested in the program. And be sure to email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or application concerns.