08 May 2009


Yep, I live my life in a fog of cluelessness. I often wonder where the handbook is on how to get along with people, or where the rule sheet was left that explains how organizations work. I look around and wonder if there is some secret club that people join to teach them how to move in society. A club that is invitation only nobody thinks to invite me. Sometimes I've even paused to consider the possiblility of having a pill to take that would enable me to be socially adept. Like antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and anitpsychotics change your thinking, the Social Pill would provide your brain with correct routing of chemicals to produce accurate, socially acceptable behaviour. The pill would probably have some side effects though. Like eruptions of irritability, the sudden uncontrollable urge to speak the complete truth, or occasional speaking in the Devi's Tongue.

So I went to my Union meeting on Wednesday where they did indeed hand out the Proposal to everyone. It was explained that some items are added to enhance our work environment, like posting the work schedule two weeks in advance or what can be put on the Union bulletin board. We were told that they started the bargaining with these itty bitty issues to warm up the other side. There is no point in starting off with the difficult items like money, instead they start with issues that are less likely to cause argument. Ok, fine, that makes sense. But why didn't they spell it out like that in the beginning? Why did I have to call the Union over and over and over again? Why not just explain the process at the first meeting as if none of us had ever encoutered a Union before? I know I'm not the only one that was at the first meeting that didn't understand how things work, so I'm not the only one who would benefit from detailed explanations.

The Negotiator kept using the analogy of buying a car. You go in with a list of things you'd like, but end up having to settle for a different color or different floor mats in order to get the car with the good engine and transmission. He likened the Union's Proposal additions to the running parts of the car and the Employee's wants to the bells and whistles of the car. Ultimately, he said, we would have to decide if our Collective Agreement is something we can live with, not love. Well, the way my brain functions immediately threw out his analogy of cars. If I'm buying a new car, I've already researched which ones are safe and have good running parts. Then I'll go in with my wish list and not leave until I have exactly what I want. After all, if I'm spending that kind of money on a new car, it'll damn well have what I want in the color I want. But that would be buying a car for me, where this Agreement is for everyone. I can see that. The Agreement can't please every person there. It'll have some items I like and some I don't. Everyone will have to compromise a bit in order to get an Agreement that is good for the group.

I ended up leaving the meeting frustrated that I really have no control over how the negotiations are handled. And even though I've been told by outside sources that the Union answers to the employees, it really does seem to be that the Union thinks they are in charge. So I have decided to just give up on it. The only sticking point I have is pay scales anyway. I don't like the idea that my wages are based on years of service instead of merit. But I've heard from long term employees that the owner will never go for pay scales anyway. And I've heard directly from Boss that he would rather pay based on merit than service. So I'm sure the Agreement will work out just fine. I just need to learn how to not get involved or drawn in when people start talking about wanting something or disagreeing with the Union. I must control the urge to control everything. Or...something like that anyway.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My experience with unions is little and ancient, but I wonder... Did the union ask the employees ahead of time what each person wanted? And did the union then rank those wants according to popularity? And then did the union put that list to the employees so the employees could decide if that's really what they want to bargain for?

Just the way I think unions should work.

Love, from your social inept (where did you think you got it from :) Mom