It has occurred to me that most members have no idea what the union is or how it works. I thought I would take this opportunity to explain. It is my hope that readers will see the importance of this work and will do their part to continue the mission well in the future.
it is important to point out that there is a basic inherent conflict in the employee/employer relationship that can never be fully eliminated. However that does not mean that the work environment has to be hostile or contentious. It simply identifies the two contradictory powers that are in play at all times; the employer wants productivity, and profit from their employees and employees want to be fairly compensated for their work and treated equitably by enforcing the rules for all employees in the same fashion. Providing compensation is diametrically opposed to the goal of increased profits; profits can be increased by reducing payroll expenses. However if the employer reduces the compensation to much there is a real possibility of increased expenses related to training as a result of increased turn over or no productivity due to the lack of workers willing to perform the job. The union is the vehicle by which a balance is struck in the employee/employer relationship. It is the union that collects the values, ideas, and goals of the employees to present to the employer. How this is incorporated to the work place becomes the contract. The contract is a living document that is changed as the needs of the parties change.
Change and conflict is constant and requires daily monitoring to maintain the balance between the parties. Stewards have the responsibility of monitoring the work place and identifying any activity that is contrary to the agreed upon rules and regulations. When there is heightened conflict there is increased grievance activity. This also increases the administrative tasks related to monitoring the grievance activity; filing, enforcing settlements, and tracking jobs. If settlements are not enforced, then the rules have no meaning. We are in a period of heightened conflict. The grievances are skyrocketing at a rate that is out pacing the ability of the myself, Bill and the 3 stewards to keep up. We are at least 2 stewards short so violations are being missed on Tour 1 and Tour 2 at the plant. Having to do all of the administrative work of filing historical documents, following up on settlements, tracking bidding and staying abreast of political, legislative and contract changes that affect the workplace. In order to adequately address the current grievance load something will have to be sacrificed. This is ultimately going to affect the future working conditions. PSE's have the most to loose right now. There is no time to focus on establishing new duty assignments when management has targeted current staffing, increased discipline activity, and abandoned basic safety in the work place, all while infringing on stewards rights to investigate these violations. The future is under attack like never before and we need to pull together and find new ways to protect our work place and jobs. Everyone must play a role and share in the responsibility of maintaining our work rules and conditions of employment.
I have committed the majority of my career to enforcing the contract and striving for equity in the work place. Pulling allnighters , and working double shifts was no problem when I was younger. I can't do that anymore. I can no longer do the work of the Local without more help. I have identified areas that are needing attention in the people section of this web site. I encourage everyone to find the time to do their part to help and will promise to provide all the support and guidance they need to be successful in this endeavor. We out number management 3 to 1, but currently only use less than 5% or our resources in the effort to maintain balance. Management by contrast is using 100% of their resources to gain control. It isn't rocket science to know that 5 vs. 100 is very bad odds; like a fly buzzing around your face, little more than annoying. By contrast 3 against 1 will have much different results. Our strength is in our numbers. Together we can bring balance back to the work place, find your place and stand with the steward and officers.