If I was a steward working without a contract at AT&T, here is what I would say to my fellow workers that first week; whether face-to-face, on the call, or in the newsletter. It’s okay if management feels unloved by this; that is the point:
- The Company feels comfortable “saying no” to our Bargaining Team because they are not yet pressured by job actions such as working to the rule (for our mutual aid and protection), grievance-strikes, or information picketing. In other words, fellow workers and their union reps are being disrespected. It is them or us!
- When working without a contract there is typically no arbitration rights if a fellow worker is unjustly terminated (and they will all be unjust in the eyes of fellow workers during bargaining). Only management’s fear of our job actions over us walking will prevent these – but not the first few. Those, management will cruelly target first and they must be protected with the full righteous anger of the work-group. Management must believe you are willing to walk over each others’ fate. Watch out for each other!
- Management is literally counting our attendance at job-actions – low attendance boost the managers’ morale, and nobody wants that. Don’t let each other down!
- Stop volunteering! Volunteering, together, or not volunteering together is all employees’ right during this time. Whichever, be unified. Here’s a non-exhaustive list:
- TLD – WTH are you thinking doing a boss’s job so she can go on vacation? Or worse, go to training to be strikebreakers?We want them stressed and tired!
- Overtime – There are many ways to use the tool of exercising our contractual right to not volunteer to work voluntary overtime. (Steward pro-tip: Use this language when discussing any refusals to volunteer actions w/ management. Arbitrators and ALJ’s at the NLRB dig it.)
- Call-outs – Also voluntary
- LBM’s are on the other side! – Every technician who talks to an LBM instead of a bargained-for dispatch center employee is helping management get rid of a fellow worker’s job. LBM’s should be politely asked to honor your contract and contact you through bargained-for workers at the Center (or your boss, who will likely feel pressured by this).
- Ask your members: What else? Find unity, stewards. The longer bargaining takes, the stronger, smarter, angrier we naturally become.
- Double-check call-tree info; set next meeting or picket time and date
- Walk into work together. Always together.
Stewards, do not tell your people “Don’t be afraid.” Be real: It is always scary to stand up and speak truth to power for your rights, alone. Instead, ask them to be brave, together. When we stand together, we win. Once you’re into bargaining without a contract, it’s also the best protection.
What am I missing?
Where appropriate, I’ll expand in other posts. Feel free to extend the conversation in the comments; you have the right to discuss terms and conditions at work with fellow workers. It’s a good place to practice being brave. Before commenting though, read more about how we talk to each other here.
When in doubt, aggress. Hook