Grievance Manager Case Study: Communications Workers of America

We were contacted by District 3 about help with their grievance process in late 2015, and scheduled an online/phone conference call and screen demonstration with top-level District officers and staff, including CWA Vice President Richard Honeycutt and Assistant to the VP Nick Hawkins.  Using a screen-sharing conference tool (GoToMeeting), District 3 officers and staff were able to join this conference from various locations, which made the meeting easy to schedule and attend.

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About CWA District 3

The District is a large regional jurisdiction of the Communication Workers of America (CWA), representing 65,000 workers in over 100 locals in the Southeastern US.  District 3 includes Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina and Puerto Rico.  The District represents both public and private sector employment in diverse industries that include telecommunications, airline, health care, public service, printing and news media, broadcast and cable television, higher education and corrections.

During our online meeting, we learned that the District handles grievance appeals at Step 3 and arbitration from most of their Locals across a wide array of bargaining units, and they needed a unified system to help them manage the volume and diversity of grievances while maintaining and strengthening a consistent District-level process for managing details, processes and timelines for these important cases.

Discussion of Issues

The District wanted a uniform, consistent and centralized processing and document tracking system for their grievance processes.  The system needed to:

1. Provide all case record-keeping and document storage in a single database, accessible to the District and all Locals via the internet. 
2. Provide the ability to require required information standards across the District.
3. Provide flexibility to accommodate a wide variety of bargaining units and contracts and a substantial degree of Local specialization in all steps.
4. Provide reminder emails for approaching case due dates. 
5. Provide reports and other administrative and end-user features to increase the visibility and utility of archived data and documents.

To accomplish these goals, we needed to provide District Staff with the ability to:

1. Design and create multi-screen procedures potentially specific to each local and bargaining unit, using an administrative “back end” application, as well as copy those procedures to other Locals as needed. 
2. Set time-line email alerts per Local, per bargaining unit procedure. 
3. Upload Contract provisions, per bargaining unit procedure, for easy reference and citation in grievances.

The Planning Process

First, we worked with District staff to determine the District-wide standard for information requirements, using forms and procedures that they had been using to that point.  We created a set of charts and data sheets for review and correction by District staff, and eventual inclusion in the formal Project Plan.

Next, we began to design the application’s data relationships and schema, and created flow and data relationship diagrams for internal review and testing.

Drafting and Finalizing Specifications

We drafted screen specifications as “wire-frame” mock-ups for District Staff review.  These included individual screens with information on inputs and on-screen information display.  This began a process of edits and discussions about specific display and navigation features.  Several rounds of revisions were made and the Proposal was submitted.

The Administrative back-end was planned to be as clear and transparent as possible, with the goal of making administrative processes self-evident from the screen layouts and on-screen information.

District 3 accepted the proposed plan, specifications and consideration, beginning a 120 day timeline to produce the application for client beta testing.

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Development Process

Development was done on a LAMP platform using object oriented PHP, MySQL, Javascript and JQuery.  These tools were chosen for their flexibility and widespread support across platforms and the software development industry.

Before development began, project management procedures were implemented using collaboration and work management software.  This was designed to keep the project on a schedule and to mitigate any slippage.  Progress and schedule were charted with tabular and Gantt chart reports throughout the development and non-developer alpha testing process.

Testing ended and the application was presented ready to the client within the agreed timeline.

Implementation

District staff was trained online to use the Administrator’s back end to create Local and CBA specific procedures.  Because the application was designed specifically for these processes and staff was previously engaged in the design, this was a short and easy training session of around 30 minutes.

The District 3 staff are now using Grievance Manager, and will be gradually rolling it out to their locals to enter sample sets of grievances representing various processing scenarios and obtaining feedback.

District Staff will be working with locals to determine whether procedures met local requirements and practices.  Changes were made to the District Standards. According to feedback and other considerations, procedures were modified by Administrators and some newly added inputs were made District Standard.

As the implementation process continued, several changes were made to standardized data inputs as well as the structure of the application.  Knowing all along that the planning process is never perfect, this flexibility was key to making the application achieve its original goals.

Use in The Field

The application has been in use for several months, and has been embraced by District 3.  This is a continuing process, but seems to be going well.  When we asked for comment, Assistant VP Nick Hawkins responded:

“Union Built PC’s Grievance Manager is changing the way we do business in District 3 and enabling us to better serve our members.  I can’t express how wonderful their staff has been in designing a program that is custom built for the specific needs of our District.”

Learn More about Grievance Manager

Download the Grievance Manager Brochure
Request a Demo of Grievance Manager
Watch A Brief Grievance Manager Demo
Download the UB-2017 Grievance Manager Tablet Brochure

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Union Built PC Announces the new Grievance Manager Tablet UB-2017 10.1” Android 5.1

Union Built PC Press Contact:
Pete Marchese
Union Built PC Inc.
877-728-6466
pete.marchese@unionbuiltpc.com
http://www.unionbuiltpc.com


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Technology, Labor and Unions:

Union Built PC Announces the new Grievance Manager Tablet UB-2017 10.1” Android 5.1

In today’s connected world, Union Built PC’s new UB-2017 Android Tablet is a perfect, fully customizable solution to enhance mobile workplace efficiency and productivity for International and Local Unions and all those affiliated with them.

Copiague, NY (PHANTOM POWER Marketing) May 17, 2017 – Union Built PC, a fully unionized company specializing in custom computer equipment, hardware, software and other IT solutions specifically for Labor Unions, today announced a new addition to their IT Arsenal for Labor; The Union Built PC UB-2017 – “The Grievance Manager” 10.1” Android 5.1 Tablet.

The UB-2017 features a 10.1 inch 1920 x1200 high definition screen and is designed for optimal mobility while still packing a performance punch. “The Grievance Manager” is a 3G enabled tablet boasts WiFi and Bluetooth for all consumers’ digital connections and is powered by the 5.1 Android operating system; and the MediaTek MTK6592 Octa-Core Processor for speedy performance whether for App usage in the workplace, email, web browsing, multimedia or gaming.

In today’s connected world, the UB-2017 is a perfect solution to enhance mobile workplace efficiency and productivity. Users can download any of the 1 million+ Apps found in the built-in Google Play store that can enrich business capabilities and heighten multimedia features. And customers can have their tablets custom configured so key Apps and Union Built PC’s popular software’s – such as Grievance Manager a fast-becoming Industry Standard for grievance and arbitration management – are built-in and right on the users’ capacitive touch screen.
UB2017-GM-TABLET-WITH-UBPC-ICONS

“Union Built PC Inc. has launched the UB-2017 in response to our clients requesting a light, powerful Tablet to use at Grievances, Arbitrations and Negotiations that can run our premiere Grievance Manager Software. We have heard the requests from many unions, especially The Communications Workers of America (CWA) District 2-13 and District 3. This is the reason we have named our new Tablet ‘The Grievance Manager,’” says Director of Sales and Operations Pete Marchese.

“As our customers become increasingly active users of our custom configured computers, we are now responding to the needs of the majority who have adopted smart and mobile technologies. The UB-2017 ‘The Grievance Manager’ allows us to offer a device that meets our customers’ on-the-go needs as well as the increased demands of today’s multimedia user,” continues Marchese.

The UB-2017 is also a sleek and powerful option for Unions looking for a device that switches seamlessly from work to entertainment to social media and beyond. The slim and elegant UB-2017 sports dual cameras – 1.3 MP on the front and 2MP with flash on the rear – as well as dual speakers on the back’ perfect for picture taking, uploading and storing photos, video chatting and listening to music. The large and vibrant screen, viewable from all angles, makes for an ideal television and movie viewing experience and is perfection for gamers. The UB-2017 media capabilities are bolstered by BlueRay, 3D and all Android 5.1 supported audio and video formats as well as a built-in eBook Reader. The UB-2017 also offers a number of additions to optimize its performance as a connectivity tool including an IEEEE802.11 b/g/n wireless network and a substantial 5000mAh battery that allows for more than 6 continuous hours of on or off-line work or play.

“We believe that the UB-2017 Tablet will appeal to all Union Members and Officers across the Union marketplace as we’ve aligned ‘The Grievance Manager’ to be highly accessible and flexible to serve multiple applications and budgets,” states Marchese.

The UB-2017 supports all of the major frequencies in the United States, Europe and Asia – 850, 1900, 2100mhz and like all Union Built PC products feature a 1 year factory warranty.

Union Built PC’s new UB-2017 – The Grievance Manager – Android 5.1 Tablet is available now for purchase and custom configuration at a special introductory price of $199.00. Discounts on large orders and packages are also available.

You can shop the UB-2017 and inquire about customization by visiting the Union Built PC UB-2017 webpage or email sales@unionbuiltpc.com or calling (877) 728-6466.

# # #

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About Union Built PC Inc.

Union Built PC Inc. has been serving the IT needs of Labor since 2001. Union Built PC’s mission is to “organize” Labor and help them “excel in everything they do.” Union Built PC believes their success is based on products and services that have been developed by Union Members and customized to meet the specific needs of their Union clientele. That’s why every member of the Union Built PC team is a Union Member.

Offering the most innovative technologies such as their new UB-2017 – “The Grievance Manager” – Android Tablet, Union Built Desktops, notebooks, servers, and their popular and powerful Grievance Manager Application, custom software that allows Labor Unions to manage the grievance process from start through arbitration plus Software to automate the Negotiating process; Union Built PC has singularly provided cutting edge IT innovations for Labor which focuses on the unique needs of International and Local Unions and the organizations affiliated with them.

Microsoft Admits Windows 10 Has A Serious Problem

There’s the thing about Windows 10; you give up control. Control over updates and control over privacy, but Microsoft has finally admitted the latter is a serious problem and is taking action…

In a blog post Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of the Windows and Devices Group, said the words millions have been waiting to hear:

“Many of you have asked for more control over your data, a greater understanding of how data is collected, and the benefits this brings for a more personalized experience. Based on your feedback, we are launching two new experiences to help ensure you are in control of your privacy.”

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Arguably even more important, however, are two changes being made to the Windows 10 Creators Update when it is released in the next few months (and yes, it’s still a stupid name – ‘Windows 10.2’ would be fine!).

1. Overhauled Privacy Settings On Install/Update
Say goodbye to the rubbish ‘Express Settings’ screen on first install, with the Windows 10 Creators Update you’ll get clear but simply worded explanations and toggle switches. Users upgrading to the Creators Update will also be prompted to use after updating.

2. Simplified Diagnostic Data
More detail is needed here before judging the benefits but three collections levels are being cut down to just two: ‘Basic’ and ‘Full’. Basic will have only “data that is vital to the operation of Windows” which Microsoft defines are central to “keep Windows and apps secure, up-to-date, and running properly”.

Again you’ll be prompted to review your choice after installing the Creators Update.

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New Windows 10 ‘Basic’ privacy settings deliver more user control
Image credit: Microsoft

Why So Long? And New Questions On The Horizon

It is said the first step towards admitting you have a problem is admitting you have a problem. But Microsoft has skipped this by both (finally) admitting its problem and coming up with some solutions in a single step. That’s commendable, though we’d prefer to have had an admission much earlier and a “We’re working on it!” message.

On top of this, the Creators Update looks set to raise as many questions as it answers due to something it will add called ‘Dynamic Lock’. This uses your PC’s web camera to monitor when you are sat in front of it so it can be automatically locked when you step away. Users will be able to disable Dynamic Lock, which solves my concerns, but it is likely to start a whole new wave of conspiracy theories.

Furthermore, Microsoft must still address the issue of control over Windows 10 updates. The Creators Update introduces the option to delay the installation of non-security updates for up to 35 days, but only Windows 10 Professional, Education and Enterprise versions qualify.

This means Microsoft recognizes users’ need for control but the company continues to treat mainstream Windows 10 Home users as guinea pigs for the stability of new updates before they are provided to big business. That needs to stop and users of all versions deserve the right to have control over their PCs, should they want it.

Despite all this, it is clear Microsoft is making significant steps in the right direction with Windows 10. It just shouldn’t have taken so many obviously wrong ones in the first place.

YOUR TURN

For the latest in IT News for your home or Union Office Like Union Built PC on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.  And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

 

What Does a Trump Presidency Mean for Tech?

The eight-year bromance between Barack Obama — who appointed the first chief technology officer for the US — and the tech industry is ending. Now what?

That’s the question the tech industry has been asking since a real-estate mogul turned reality star, with a spotty reputation with tech, was voted in as 45th president of the United States.

President Obama, a self-proclaimed geek and Trekkie, was the most tech-focused president in modern history, committing billions of dollars to support initiatives to spur tech innovation, improve education and encourage exploration and discovery. Unlike Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump said very little during the campaign about where he stands on most tech-related issues — though he did call for a boycott of Apple products over the company’s stance on privacy in its fight with the FBI

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One thing is clear. Silicon Valley in general isn’t excited about the next four years. In July, 150 tech leaders, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and Vint Cerf, considered the “father of the Internet,” wrote an open letter calling a Trump presidency “a disaster for innovation.” Some in the industry, notably broadband service providers, criticized him for policies they believe would stifle investment in infrastructure.

The outlook is “beyond grim,” weighted down by fear that the industry and world would suffer from this election, the New York Times reported Thursday.

Ouch.

Since Trump, 70, didn’t say all that much about tech during the campaign (he did call out “the cyber” when talking about cybersecurity concerns during one debate), industry watchers are left reading whatever tea leaves they can find until the president-elect reveals more-definitive policies.

Given that the tech industry accounts for 12 percent of all jobs, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and given Trump’s message about improving America’s economy and competitiveness, his technology policies will have a long-lasting impact.

“The onus is on him to convince us that what we have seen in the past, the erratic behavior that has been defining character of the campaign, is not what will lead policy and that we’ll see a more pragmatic approach,” said Evan Swarztrauber, communications director for the DC-based think tank TechFreedom.

Here’s what little we do know about Trump’s stand on some important tech issues.

Net Neutrality

Net neutrality became a relatively big deal in the 2008 election, but little was said during this election cycle about last year’s policy.

Net neutrality is the idea that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally. This means your broadband provider, which controls your access to the internet, can’t block or slow down the services or applications you use over the web.

That said, we do know Trump isn’t a fan of the FCC’s current regulations. In 2014, at the height of the debate to rewrite the rules around Net neutrality, he tweeted, “Obama’s attack on the internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target conservative media.”

It’s possible that an FCC led by Republicans could eliminate all or part of the rules and strip the FCC of some of its authority. If that happens, broadband providers could create so-called fast lanes and charge internet companies, like Netflix, different rates to deliver their services.

Loosening regulations around telecom will likely benefit broadband and wireless carriers. The NCTA, the Internet and Television Association, which lobbies for the cable industry, said it’s eager to work with President-elect Trump.

“We look forward to participating in a constructive and robust discussion about policies that will continue to make America a global technology and entertainment leader,” they said in a statement Wednesday.

Industry Consolidation and Broadband

Trump also seems to have taken a populist view against mergers and acquisitions. That could spell trouble for big pending mergers, including AT&T’s $85 billion takeover of entertainment giant Time Warner. When that deal was announced last month, Trump vowed to block the merger if he was elected.

“As an example of the power structure I’m fighting, AT&T is buying Time Warner and thus CNN, a deal we will not approve in my administration because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few,” he said.

AT&T’s executives still like their chances of getting the deal approved by the US, pointing to statements Trump made in his victory speech about investing in “infrastructure.”

“His policies and his discussions about infrastructure investment, economic development and American innovation all fit right in with AT&T’s goals,” Chief Financial Officer John J. Stephens said Wednesday. “We’ve been the leading investor in this country for more than five years running, and our Time Warner transaction is all about innovation and economic development, consumer choice, and investment in infrastructure with regard to providing a great 5G mobile broadband experience.”

Encryption and Cybersecurity

The president-elect has made only vague statements about privacy and security, and downplayed Russia’s alleged hacking into the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign email servers. Still, when the Justice Department tussled with Apple over unlocking the iPhone of the terrorist suspect in the San Bernardino shooting, he called for a boycott of Apple products.

What he has said about cyber security is that there should be a review of US cyber defenses by a “Cyber Review Team.” He also told the The New York Times in July that “certainly cyber has to be in our thought process, very strongly in our thought process… Inconceivable the power of cyber… you can make countries nonfunctioning with a strong use of cyber.”

RELATED: The Union Built Cloud Secure Data Storage Solution

Tax Policy

The biggest boost to the tech industry could come from Trump’s plans to lower corporate tax rates to encourage companies to invest their money in the US.

There’s a good chance that money could be invested in the US, said Rob Atkinson, president of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF). But it’s not a given. In 2004, the US allowed American companies to bring in the profit they’d earned overseas in the hope they would hire more workers. Most of the money went to executives and shareholders, instead.

Trump has also called for high import taxes on products, which could drive up prices for consumers on tech goods. In January, Trump said in a stump speech, “We’re going to get Apple to build their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries.”

Apple, which declined to comment on Trump’s statements at the time, designs its products at its Silicon Valley headquarters, but uses a Chinese contractor to build them. If Apple products were manufactured in the US, the price of an iPhone could rise to as much as $900 to offset worker wages versus the $650 cost of an iPhone today.

YOUR TURN

How do you think Trump will affect YOUR industry? Sound off in Comments, on the Union Built PC Facebook Page, or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly Union Strong email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.
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Additional Reporting by CNET

Why Do You Need Cloud Storage?

Many people have heard about cloud storage but they don’t really know what it is and how they can use it. Not everybody has a background in IT that’s why it is completely understandable why the notion of sending your files to some cloud storage company is a bit daunting. However, using cloud storage has a lot advantages that you just cannot replicate with an external hard drive, for example.

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Let’s have a look at what you can do with cloud storage and why you might need it:

1. Cloud storage frees you from external hard drives

One of the best things about storing your data in the cloud is that it is accessible anywhere you go and where you have an internet connection (even in most developing countries that’s not a problem anymore). There is no need to carry and external hard drive around with you that a) could be stolen, b) could be lost or c) could break in any manner possible. With cloud storage getting your files is as easy as opening a web browser.

2. Sync your files across multiple devices

The best cloud storage solutions allow you to synchronize your files across your laptop, desktop and mobile device. What does syncing mean? Well, say you work on an important document at the office but you cannot finish it on time. If you save that presentation in your cloud storage folder it will be copied automatically to your mobile device and laptop so that you can finish it while commuting or at home.

3. Share & Collaborate

If you’re using a cloud storage solution for your files you can easily share files with your friends, family and colleagues. Just think about this: you’re on vacation with your children and spouse and you want to show your mother your beach house. Of course, you could upload your photos to Facebook but what if your parents don’t use Facebook? Just send them an email to a folder of your cloud storage solution and they can open it right away. Forget large email attachments that never arrive!

If you’re working remotely you can use those shared folders to collaborate with your team mates. Some solutions even allow to give special access rights to those folders.

4. Save cost

In many cases you can save quite a few bucks if you sign up for a cloud storage solution. Most of the time you will end up paying less than with external hard drives – also, your files are automatically backed up – not so on your external hard drive.

Automatic back-up of files recently became critical for one of our clients; JATC Union Local 351. They had experienced a ransomware attack that blocked their access to all files. With a cloud storage solution in place we were able to recover all files that were automatically backed up prior to the attack.

RELATED: How Union Built PC Resolved the Cyber Terrorism Strike Against JATC Union Local 351

5. Security

Many people are afraid about their files not being private. And rightfully so. Cyber Crime is on the rise and nobody is immune. In fact; 99% of computer users are vulnerable to cyber attacks simply as a result of everyday-software installed on your device(s).

RELATED: Protect Your Sensitive Data from Cyber Criminals with the Union Built Cloud

Now one could argue if you don’t have anything to hide it doesn’t matter – but again, we are not just talking about celebrities and the possible hacking of their private photos. We are talking about the vulnerability of your sensitive data, your social security number, banking and credit card information, passwords and more. Luckily, many cloud storage solutions have proper file encryption technology in place to protect your files from Cyber Criminals and third parties such as the NSA.

FREE eBOOK: The Growing Threat of Ransomware and How to Stay Safe

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Download the Union Built Cloud Brochure, Cloud Storage Solutions for Union Members and Offices.

How to Make Union Meetings Interesting and Useful

Membership meetings are not simply places for members to get information and cast votes. Meetings should give members a sense of power by bringing them together. They can see and feel that they are not alone, that others have similar problems, and that others have found solutions. Meetings should give members the opportunity to observe leaders and potential leaders in action. They can learn from each other, combine ideas, and build something bigger.

If this doesn’t sound like a union meeting you’ve ever been to, it’s because many locals are unknowingly stuck in traditions that almost guarantee that a first-time attendee will not come back, and only the most faithful will persevere.

Although many officers fret about low attendance levels, it is not necessary for democracy that all or most members attend membership meetings. Except at contract time and for other special events, most locals will see only a relatively small, dedicated minority at monthly meetings. Meetings, especially on a regular basis, are not for everyone.

But union meetings can be the chief organizing vehicle for that portion of the membership that takes union work most seriously – the activists. Coming to the monthly meeting is often one of the first things that a member tries when he’s seeking to be more involved. It’s important not to turn them off!

That means that the success of a meeting is not measured simply by the number attending, but by how that meeting contributes to the control, involvement, activism, and self-confidence of all the members, both those present and those not. What “comes out of” the meeting—the plans made, assignments taken, feedback received—are more important than the meeting itself.

union-meetingPerk Up The Agenda

To improve meetings and boost attendance, start by doing away with the standard meeting announcement that sets out the same uninformative agenda month after month:

  • President’s Report
  • Committee Reports
  • Old Business
  • New Business
  • Adjourn (wake up)

Tell members instead what will actually come up at the meeting. Make sure they know how to propose agenda points covering their concerns. Distribute proposed motions in advance.

Put important and controversial items on the agenda. Discuss issues that will directly affect work situations. Have votes on policy questions where the vote really makes a difference.

Get rid of the boring reports. Print them out and distribute them in advance. Do them in multiple languages if appropriate, so members can come to meetings prepared.

Once we get over thinking that every member should attend regularly, then we can specialize some meetings. Plan each meeting to focus on a different section of the membership. Invite a few of those members to make a presentation on specific problems they’re facing.

Advertise that the January meeting, for example, will take up the question of repetitive strain injuries in the wrapping department, and recruit shop floor leaders and RSI victims to give presentations. February will focus on the problem of a particular supervisor in inspection. Treated this way, soon members will be clamoring to get their points on the agenda.

Another possibility is to move the location of the meetings around to make them more convenient to different segments of the membership.

Get People Talking

Use some imagination. Bring in outside speakers for brief talks and discussion. Use video clips. Give people—especially volunteers—recognition for what they have accomplished for the union.

Break down into small groups on occasion to get more people participating. Have members do skits or role-playing to deal with challenges facing the union.

For example, management wants to bring in summer temporaries. Some members are pleased because their kids can get the jobs; others want to make management stick to the contractual hiring procedures. Most of the people at the meeting, because they think about the contract more than other members do, are in the latter camp.

Rather than just discussing how to make management toe the line, get two members to come up front, play the roles of union members with different viewpoints, and argue it out. Use the insights gained to plan a strategy.

Always have a point on the agenda called “members’ concerns,” where anyone can raise a problem or question without necessarily making a motion. In this portion the officers listen, make notes, and after the meeting see that some action or investigation begins. Not only do they report back to the person who has brought the concern, they also report back to the next union meeting.

Be Welcoming

Make sure several people are assigned to help any new members or first-timers understand the meeting procedures and help them accomplish what they came to the meeting for. Sit with them and explain what is going on. If a person uses procedure incorrectly, figure out his intent and help him through it.

The chairperson should go out of her way to make the newcomers comfortable, give them recognition when possible, and draw them further into participation.

Invite spouses to the meetings as full participants (except for voting). Have good quality childcare so that the kids look forward to the meeting as well as the adults.

One technique we do not recommend is door prizes or lottery tickets to boost meeting attendance. It cheapens the purpose of the meeting and stresses seeing things in terms of “what’s in it for me individually” rather than coming together to help all of us.

On the other hand, Teamsters Local 174 in Seattle used a financial incentive to break the ice with new part-time UPS workers. Those who came to an introductory meeting were refunded their initiation fee. Union leaders thought the one-time appeal to self-interest was worth it, to make sure some of these young, high-turnover workers learned firsthand about the local’s philosophy and how to get to the union hall.

Don’t Stop Here…

At the end of the meeting it is sometimes useful to have a brief point on evaluation—what could be improved? Keep the meetings short so they don’t dribble to a close as people drift out; leave time for informal discussion and socializing afterward.

Remember that the meeting is only one piece of the union’s life; most members relate to the union outside of meetings. If the union meeting in essence consists of the various levels of leaders—elected people and rank and file activists—then the next job is to figure out how to provide two-way information between the leaders who come to meetings and the bulk of the members in the workplace. A strong and democratic union exists primarily as a force in the workplace, not at the union hall.

That’s why every meeting should be an action meeting that leads to some other activity. Members and leaders should take assignments at the meeting, and these should be summed up at the end: “The president will check into x and report back to y body. John has volunteered to help the education committee put out a leaflet on xyz problem by x date. Everyone here in the abc department will take the group grievances and get them signed.”

Assignments should lead the work of the union back into the workplace where more members can be involved, not just to the next union meeting or committee meeting.

YOUR TURN

How do you accomplish a sense of togetherness at your Union meetings? As a member? As a leader?  Sound off in Comments, on the Union Built PC Facebook Page, or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly eNewsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox.