From the Desk of the President (April, 2013)


Iím in the process of cleaning out the folders on Lotus notes - I am definitely a packrat - and I have had some "fun" reading the myriad of e-mails on a ton of subjects over the past 10 years. Yes, it is true, I have e-mails going back to 2003 - some are even older from the system predating Lotus. It is amazing looking at the subjects of the questions asked and the issues addressed that have remained the same over the course of those years. For some things, that is good, but for others it is really pathetic. Being a History and Social Science major, it is important to share our lessons learned.

So, here are a top 10 issues - so far:  

1. Thank you for all the hard work of the officers and stewards on my grievance; on negotiations; of meeting with me regarding my concerns; holding lunch time meetings on issues; listening to me rant and rave - feel better getting it off my chest; all the information in the newsletter and on the web site; talking to coworkers for/with me; etc.

2. Being yelled at/belittled by supervisor/manager - is it harassment or bullying and how do I deal with it?

3. Use of sick leave - can it be denied when I have to drop things to take my child/spouse/parent to the doctor/hospital for ongoing conditions and can the supervisor mandate that I bring a statement from the doctor every time I need to do this?

4. Where can I find the appropriate Article or Section in the contract to address a specific concern (surprisingly enough, about 1/2 of those queries have been from non-Local 34 folks)?

5. FMLA - what is it, how does it work, who do I talk to, can you explain things to me?

6. Good & Welfare requests for coworkers - a lot of you care enough about your fellow members to ask that we do something for them when they are sick, have lost a loved one, had a baby, gained their citizenship, got married. That is very heartening as families do this for each other.

7. Who is my steward?

8. Seniority list questions and concerns.

9. Wages and steps - how do I know if I am being paid the right amount? Where can I find the steps for my job class?

10. What are the hours I have to work versus can work and who gets to determine that - me or the Employer?  

It saddens me greatly to see that members still experience harassment or bullying when we have policies in place to ad-dress both concerns. I would hope that adding the bullying language to the policy will help our workplace to be one of respect and dignity. However, that takes everyone being aware of the effect their words and behaviors have on the people surrounding them. We also need to support each other when unacceptable behavior is identified, regardless of who is perpetrating that behavior, and be willing to change our behavior if what we do or say is disrespectful.  

Please, continue to let our Good & Welfare folks - Marcia Dietz and Merry Brigham - know when one of our members has had a life event that should be recognized. It is a small gesture but means the world when you are the recipient of that gesture. See the Good & Welfare box elsewhere in this newsletter for their contact information. And join me in a big thank you to Joe Weston, our long-time voluntary Elections Chairman, who is retiring before our next election.  

Keep those contract questions coming. I learn something new almost every time you ask me about the various articles and sections. Again, that is the love of learning - digging into things to get the correct information to address your concerns. And speaking of contracts, this is a negotiations year. We are still working on putting our proposal together so, if you see something in the contract that you think could be tweaked - or don't see something that you think should be included - please let me know right away. Our plan is to have our Local 34 supplemental issues finalized within a month.  

And, on behalf of the officers and stewards of Local 34, you are very much welcome for all the work we do and the services we provide. It is our passion and we are happy to know that you benefit from all that we do. Just remember that what we accomplish is possible only because you are there - a visible reminder of what union members can do when we stand together. It is one of the most effective messages that we can send to the Employer - we are here!  

Now it is back to the folders - need to get rid of more "stuff". ~ Jean