For a grievance-strike or group-grievance to spread, it should be “organic”. If union leadership is seen to encourage this spread, then the Company may try to file a ULP charge on the union. Even though it would be BS, it would affect bargaining in a way workers don’t want. That is why there are often “whisper-campaigns” to develop job-actions. Your leaders are not cowardly, they are educated to not put bargaining in jeopardy. Workers’ role is to punch; leadership’s is to tell management that strikers were actually showing restraint.
Communication Is Key – To Fellow Workers and Management
Here is how I would join (or start!) a grievance strike if this if I was in another garage, or even in another Local:
- Call my fellow workers and TELL them I am going to call my boss and return the job I am on so I can return to the garage and picket in support of (for example) the Columbus, OH Chambers garage
- I would explain to my fellow workers that we all should participate in this job action because article 12.03 “Just Cause” was being violated by [whatever department] management by skipping steps in discipline. Skipping steps in discipline just because we are without a contract and without arbitration is meant to intimidate us into not exercising our Section 7 and Section 8 rights under the NLRA. This is an unfair labor practice (ULP) and thus striking over it is PROTECTED concerted activity. The use of the word “safety” by management in such discipline is egregious
- It would be best to write all this down in an email or text. I would totally use Company email, since I’m also going to cc my boss and his boss. This is because it traps management into recognizing that the workers have a concern about their rights. Putting this knowledge on management is very helpful to demonstrate to the NLRB that management was likely retaliating if they take discipline. (Email also makes it easy to prove your lawful intent and prevent management from lying in court, if you have to go there.
- Pro tip: Sending it in email to everybody including the boss gains you the “protected concerted” even if you are a lonely switch-man or home-garager. Even if you are the only brave one (this time).
Picketing the Work-site
When you arrive back at your garage, safely park your truck, grab your sign from your personal vehicle and join your union. The NLRB has recently held that you have the right to picket on Company property, out of the way of where work is being performed, such as parking lots, sidewalks, break-rooms, etc. Do not voluntarily leave Company property; check with your local. If the picketing goes into the next day, that is your “work-location” so that you can immediately return to work as scheduled. Follow the instructions of your local reps, unless you decide to stay out longer to win more!
It is your right to not cross a picket line! No need to scab!
This is a ULP strike, not an bargaining or “economic” strike! In other words, we are fixing work or a particular violation, not trying to end bargaining. This is an important legal distinction. Signs and chants should be about the ULP, not about bargaining.
If you do it that way, especially telling all this to your boss, you can get away with picketing at least the whole day before things get straightened out. This is because at AT&T, managers are not trained on how to deal with you asserting your rights — likely by upper’s design.
Be careful when you’re walking the line. Safety in numbers.