I received great feedback, both positive and negative, about my last post. Both the content, and the wisdom of posting it. I especially value the discussions I had with some members of the Local Executive Board (made up of officers and Lead Stewards). Challenging me, listening to my concerns, and responding with their knowledge, these are all the things a Lead Steward should be doing with Local members. All affirmed that they would be asking for the Local bylaws and closely examining the IMO ill-advised decision to sell the members’ union hall while there are full-time officers on the union’s payroll. This robust discussion is a good thing for the membership.
I feel that, by using my voice, I have voiced an important concern to those I call sister and brother in my CWA Local 4034. Doing so created opportunities to ask questions of leadership, uncovering several concerns during two general membership meetings regarding Local officer pay, procedures, expenses and even falling representation levels in the field, despite having full-time officers. These are things that can be fixed by participation of both members and Executive Board, and the reinforcement that our leaders should lead, not rule.
However, I have paid a price to exercise my voice.
About a week ago, when I reached out to the Local president about not selling our union hall, I was told by him that I am not a Local member now; listed as “Dismissed/Inactive,” with no rights or privileges. No explanation or other detail was provided. On followup, I was informed without explanation by the Local president that he “must object” to my attendance at any general membership meetings, let alone the upcoming Lansing meeting.
I dispute this with every fiber of my being. I decided “objection” was a wishy-washy boss-talk for, “You can come but I really wish you wouldn’t,” and went to the Lansing general membership meeting to use my voice. In order to silence me, the Local president had the executive vice-president call the police on me, in front of my wife, friends and members whom I had served, and with whom I had served, for years.
In 2017, the Local president informed me that “the Local” could no longer retain me as a steward of Local 4034; this meant also that I could no longer serve in my various other “official” CWA capacities with the International. I duly resigned those positions, but not my membership. I made clear to him that being a member of the Local for whom I and my family had fought and sacrificed was important to me. I asked him to have the Secretary/Treasurer set up a dues structure for me at that time.
This was my right both under the CWA Constitution and the Local bylaws. It was also necessary in my view for me to continue serving CWA entities as a consultant who is also a CWA member in good standing. Similar to how those pesky financial guys are usually CWA members and this gains them courtesies, such as meeting potential clients at the union hall.
The Local president has not responded to my question concerning how, when, why this happened, yet. I hope to resolve this as a misunderstanding. I want my membership restored, not because I want to run for office, but because I want to vote on who makes these decisions.