The union executive board at Telsa Coil Inc. is a little worried. Their contract negotiations begin in just 3 months. In the three years since their last contract there have been lots of changes in the workplace. Membership has increased because new work was brought in the plant, but at the same time some of the old work was moved to Mexico. Departments that once were the strength of the union now are half their size.
Keeping the members informed is one of the basic elements necessary for building and maintaining strong and effective local unions — and a local newsletter can play an important role in helping build good communication.
Ralph and the other officers of the Union were trying to figure out why fewer and fewer members came to the regular monthly meetings. Ralph was saying, "I asked Rachel why she doesn't come to meetings any more. You know what she said? 'It takes forever for anything to get decided. Last month's meeting went on for 3 hours. Everybody was talking about different things, so nothing ever got settled on.
The union members at United Fabricators just voted to accept a new contract. For months the Company has tried to make them agree to pay 50% of their health insurance costs. The members had resisted and the negotiating committee stayed firm. The new contract contained good pay raises and they held the line on the insurance costs. Ideal Fabrizio, the chief steward stood outside of the union hall looking for any reporters.
UE locals across the United States operate under many different conditions. Some exist in "right to work" states where union membership is completely voluntary, but the union must represent the "freeloaders." UE locals exist in the public sector where the biggest problem can be politicians out to make cheap points. In other locals our organization wasn't strong enough to win a union shop, even where it is legal.
- When you talk with "free riders" keep in mind what UE members have won in your workplace—everything from better wages and working conditions to dignity and a voice on the job.
- Write out the progress UE has made — it should make a good leaflet for new members and non-members.
The union stewards at Delco Inc. were having their monthly stewards meeting. As the meeting was drawing to a close, Anne Burlak, the Chief Steward asked if there was any other business. "Yeah, I've got something that some people are asking me about," said George Dimitrof, Department 17 Steward.
- Attitudes about the union are often formed during the first year on the job ...
- Information about the union and the contract; the grievance procedure; and, the effectiveness of stewards play a major role in forming and maintaining membership involvement from day one.
Other key factors influencing employee attitudes about the union are: