NFFE-IAMAW : Local #701 B-D National Forest
What's wrong with our unions and why do we need them?3/1/2002
Have you heard that union membership is falling and that unions are a thing of the past? Interestingly enough, as reported in Scientific American in May 1999, American Unions have been faring rather poorly. However, that same article notes that in Scandinavia, quite the opposite is true. Why? Rodger Doyle, the author of that article, believes that it is due to three factors-political influence, strong national bargaining and union administration of unemployement benefits.
Focusing on the first two items, i.e., political influence and strong national bargaining, it becomes pretty obvious that numbers count. And I would suggest that in the federal sector there are four main reasons union membership has not increased: (1)by law, federal sector unions have to represent any bargaining unit members whether or not they pay dues, (2)we have allowed management to fragment us, causing local union representatives to fight the same battle over and over again at the local level as opposed to one battle at the national level, (3) local union representatives haven't had ready access to legal reference materials, and (4) we don't broadcast our "wins.
So maybe you think we do not need labor unions in the federal sector? Think again. Without federal sector unions, employees are relegated to the agency grievance procedure. Now think about some of these scenarios and tell me how effective you think an agency grievance procedure would be!
After an employee's supervisor is transferred to another job, the employee is told that they are going to fill that job temporarily with another person so that the other person can get enough experience to apply and be selected for the supervisory position.
Management requires employees to deal with medical emergencies, but doesn't want to pay hazard pay when these employees are exposed to blood borne pathogens.
Management uses the temporary hiring authority in violation of the Code of Federal Regulations in order to avoid hiring permanent seasonal employees.
Management pays some employees time and travel to their duty station while other employees in the same grade and series are commuting on their own time and their own dime.
Management assigns codes to each job which would classify them as "inherently government" (which will be used for A76-contracting out of government jobs) and doesn't tell the employees what they are coded as.
Bottom line folks-unions are the way to go and the greater our membership and the more educated union representatives are, the more effective we will be. In that light, hopefully "The Union News" will be or service.
Excerpts from the Union Web Page of Erik Holst