UNION related chat, reflections and experiences. Reps & members alike!

Discussion in 'education & employment' started by Rutita1, Mar 9, 2016.

  1. purenarcotic

    purenarcotic Conveniently Pocket Sized

    I am the rep at work but it feels pointless tbh. We don't have a lot of members, it's hard to persuade anyone to join - at one point we had more managers than staff. The local branch are crap and never call back so I end up using ACAS all the time. I'm not very busy thankfully.
     
  2. mhendo

    mhendo Aussie in San Diego

    I'm a member of a union here in California. I teach history in the California State University system, a collection of 23 campuses that constitute the largest four-year university system in the United States, with about 460,000 students.

    Our faculty union, the California Faculty Association (CFA), is pretty good. It's not as strong as i would like, but the leaders are committed and it does a good job, especially considering the pretty widespread hostility to organized labor in the United States. Still, the past seven or eight years since the global financial crisis have been tough, with promised pay raises failing to materialize and, in 2009-2010, even a one-off, one-year 10% pay cut due to the budget crisis.

    When the university reneged on promised pay raises in 2008-2009, they said that we would get the raises when the budget crisis was over and the state restored prior levels of funding. Then in the last couple of years, the state has restored funding to the university, but when we asked the university administration to fulfill their promises regarding raises, they told us to take a hike.

    The last year has seen extensive negotiations between the CFA and the university, with the university administration refusing to budge even an inch. The union voted a few months ago to authorize a strike, but we were not legally allowed to strike until the negotiation process set by the collective bargaining agreement was complete. The last stage of that process was a fact-finder's report in which an arbitrator, chosen by the university, announced that the university had the money and should deliver on the pay raises. The university said "Fuck you," so the union set a date for a week-long strike, starting on April 13 (this coming Wednesday).

    The university had been blustering about the strike, saying that it wouldn't disrupt operations, but it became pretty clear that the vast majority of faculty were on board and would walk out.

    Two days ago, the university came back to the table, and just this morning the union and the university announced a tentative agreement which gave us just about everything we had been asking for:

    5% raise effective June 30, 2016.
    2% raise effective July 1, 2016
    3.5% raise effective July 1, 2017

    Also, 2.65% service increases for eligible faculty, and some other longer-term changes.

    So, 10.5% over the next year. Good job by the union. Strike averted.

    The increases mean that, taking inflation into account, we'll be almost back to where we were before the financial crisis. These days, breaking even qualifies as progress, I suppose.
     
  3. crossthebreeze

    crossthebreeze Well-Known Member

    I've just joined Unite in their Unite for Our Society (Community, Youth Work, and Not for Profit) Sector. I work for two small charities - neither recognise a union, and i don't think there's any other individual members. In both jobs, I work part of the time with hazardous tools, including petrol-driven machines, and much of the other time supervising volunteers (sometimes to use sharp tools), including vulnerable adults, and working with children and young people - so I reckon joining a union is worth it even as an insurance policy if nothing else.

    One problem so far is that Unite doesn't seem to be able to cope with someone who has more than one job - the forms, the sector questionnaire, and even the members portal only have space for one job (and I popped into the regional office to ask how to fill in the application form or if I should join part time twice - they seemed confused but in the end told me to put down the part-time job with the longest hours/most secure contract but tick the full time box and then give someone a ring when my membership came through). Luckily both jobs are similar roles in the same sector. I think they need to get this sorted, because there's an increasing number of people with more than one employer and/or insecure contract and hours!

    If the branch/sector/regional office seem supportive, I'm actually quite keen to get my colleagues to join too, as well as some of the other people I know who work for small voluntary organisations - as funding cuts mean most of our jobs have increased in insecurity. I also want to link with council workers who are members of the union, and the Unite Community membership, as I'm concerned about the voluntary sector being used politically to support cuts to services, and (though it hasn't happened in the organisations I work for so far) implement workfare. I'll have to suss things out first though.
     
  4. friendofdorothy

    friendofdorothy it is so much worse than Thatcherism now

    The charity I work for doesn't recognise union either and non of my co-workers are in a union as far as I know. A lot of us are on min or near min wage.

    crossthebreeze I'd be interested to hear how you get on with encouraging others to join and how supportive Unite seem to you.

    I'm with Unite too. They keep sending me emails for their 'faith workers' branch which must be a mistake - 'community / not for profit' sounds more appropriate, though I haven't bothered telling them yet. Apart from paying my dues I haven't had much to do with them yet and don't really know what they do or how to be involved.
     
    crossthebreeze likes this.
  5. Lord Camomile

    Lord Camomile Lemonade socialist

    This seems to be such a problem generally. Or at least it's certainly my experience where I work - massive lack of easy to access/understand info about getting more involved. Working on changing that, but I've got to understand it all first! :oops:
     
    friendofdorothy likes this.
  6. quimcunx

    quimcunx Too tall.

    crossthebreeze although I've never been to one myself :oops: I think going to your local branch meeting would be a good idea for you.

    Unite do a new reps course that is geared towards recruiting your workmates too.
     
    Rutita1 and crossthebreeze like this.
  7. belboid

    belboid TUC Off Your Knees

    If you work for a 'faith based' charity, it would be the relevant branch, even if the faith doesn't really show up in the work you do.
     
  8. friendofdorothy

    friendofdorothy it is so much worse than Thatcherism now

    I do work for a charity that is owned by some religious people. I'm not a religious person and my job/role doesn't involve faith beyond hoping they might pay me. All branch meetings seem to be about vicars, CoE etc so if those are the meetings I'm supposed to go to, then heaven help me.
     
  9. Sprocket.

    Sprocket. Baroudeur...

    Would the meetings be held at an olive branch? :)
     
    crossthebreeze likes this.
  10. friendofdorothy

    friendofdorothy it is so much worse than Thatcherism now

    Weird synchronisity. I've just got an email about a course to become a rep.
     
  11. crossthebreeze

    crossthebreeze Well-Known Member

    I've just googled the faith workers branch - even their LGBT campaign is about LGBT Anglican clergy!
    If I find out anything of use about the Unite for Our Society section i'll pass it on here.
     
    friendofdorothy likes this.
  12. Rutita1

    Rutita1 Scum with no integrity, apparently.

    Do it! You'd be great at it. :)
     
  13. friendofdorothy

    friendofdorothy it is so much worse than Thatcherism now

    but I don't know anything about unions and have never met a member of my union. I've no idea about what is involved or what the union even does. Sounds very isolated, too isolated for me.
     
  14. Rutita1

    Rutita1 Scum with no integrity, apparently.


    It's a world of stuff, just waiting for you and your hats! :cool:
     
    friendofdorothy likes this.
  15. Lord Camomile

    Lord Camomile Lemonade socialist

    Latest 'final' offer from management in negotiations on improving our London Weighting is an annual increase of £200 for the next three years. Given we haven't had an increase for 11 years that'll be £600 over 14 years by the end, to say nothing of the lack of increase in basic pay.

    I am naturally quite doubtful this reflects the increase in living costs over the past 14 years. Is there somewhere to get credible data on the cost of living in London over that time period? I really, really want to demonstrate the disparity between reality and what they're offering.

    The sad truth is I think we have a strong argument but are making it from a weak position. I'm hoping if we can make the argument to our members and potential members then we can encourage them to get a bit more active. No idea if it will work, but worth a try.
     
  16. Lord Camomile

    Lord Camomile Lemonade socialist

    We've had 16 new members join this month, four from my team :cool:
     
    equationgirl and Sue like this.
  17. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model Every man and every woman is a star

    see my pm
     
  18. Lord Camomile

    Lord Camomile Lemonade socialist

    On it :thumbs:
     
  19. Lord Camomile

    Lord Camomile Lemonade socialist

    And if anyone's in central London on Tuesday:

    Potiche poster.jpg
     
    Pickman's model likes this.
  20. Sue

    Sue Well-Known Member

    Have you seen this? Know it's got a union theme but thought it was a pretty rubbish film -- thought it was like a French Carry On film when I saw it... (Find Ozon's films very variable -- some I love, others (like this) I pretty much hate.)
     
  21. Lord Camomile

    Lord Camomile Lemonade socialist

    Yeah, I screened it at my other film club :D I know it's rather light but we thought we'd go with something fun for the first screening. I can appreciate it's not to everyone's tastes but it went down really well at the film club, audience was laughing throughout and very chattery about it at the end.
     
  22. Sue

    Sue Well-Known Member

    Hope they like it. ;)
     
  23. Lord Camomile

    Lord Camomile Lemonade socialist

    I think it's just going to be me and the branch secretary anyway :D
     
    Pickman's model likes this.
  24. eatmorecheese

    eatmorecheese massaged in hot chocolate

    I became a rep 18 months ago and rapidly became assistant branch secretary six months ago (cos no one else, apparently, wanted to do it). I have two days per week facility time and am balancing the needs of my substantive job with the high level of need of individual members.

    Our finances are a bit shot and we may have to make the secretary we employ redundant because of this. I'm pissed off with the state the branch was left in when the last branch secretary retired. We have a fair few reps, but they often lack confidence in their abilities and need a lot more support. We've successfully applied for funding to employ two caseworkers to cover schools/academies and private employers, as our facility time is granted purely to represent council officers, so that's a bonus. They both start next week.

    We're fire-fighting, to be honest. I'd love time to develop proper strategies, move this office away from cumbersome paper files, have a proper case management system in place etc, but we're just about coping with the case work, the restructure processes, school academisation and other day-to-day stuff and this leaves little time for forward planning.

    It's been a baptism of fire, and no fucking mistake.

    Still, when you get a victory, there's nothing like it. One of our disabled members achieved a 65k payout at tribunal for discrimination the other week. :cool:

    friendofdorothy do it! I'm sure you'd be great!
     
    muscovyduck and Almor like this.
  25. friendofdorothy

    friendofdorothy it is so much worse than Thatcherism now

    Why? As I said:
    and I've still not met another member of my union.
     
  26. eatmorecheese

    eatmorecheese massaged in hot chocolate

    Fair enough, really. It probably seems pretty daunting if there is no support structure around you.

    Some unions look for 'workplace contacts', who don't represent members but are a point of contact for passing issues up to the region or the local branch. I don't know where you work or in what field, but if there are no other members in your workplace then recruiting members would be a start?
     
  27. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

  28. Mr.Bishie

    Mr.Bishie BeRightOn

    Been offered full time release. Bit apprehensive, huge move for me being out of my regular workplace & 100% into a union facilitating role!

    What's Urban say?
     
    Pickman's model likes this.
  29. Rutita1

    Rutita1 Scum with no integrity, apparently.

    Depends....what will this actually mean for you, where you are work wise?

    List the pros and cons as you see them for us ? :)
     
  30. Rutita1

    Rutita1 Scum with no integrity, apparently.

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