February 2019 Update
The 2016 National Agreement expires on September 20th and preparations are well under way for the negotiation of our next contract. Part of these preparations involved providing an opportunity for Mail Handlers from across the country to submit their contractual proposals. This allowed every individual Member to have a voice in their future. Thank you to everyone in Local 323 who took the time to participate in this process.
The process of developing contract proposals usually takes some time. This process starts by simply asking people what they would like to see changed. Some good ideas have originated from spontaneous conversations. After someone provides an idea, I like to shop it around for other opinions. In fact, I usually pack up these ideas and take them on the road. It would not be unusual for me to ask the Members at a Branch meeting in Fargo their opinion of an idea that came out of a meeting of the St. Paul Branch. The evaluation of ideas continues through conversations with Members, Stewards, and Officers, throughout the Local Union over a course of several months.
One area to which I pay close attention is what’s referred to as an unachievable demand. For example, I may ask someone their opinion of an idea only to hear that it’s a good idea, but that management would never agree. Sometimes this can be an indication of a significant problem. While I recognize that not every problem can be fixed by a single round of bargaining, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to make improvements which could lessen the impact of a problem. Sometimes change comes incrementally.
When all the discussion is done, every idea must take the form of a written proposal. Language must be crafted, and a decision must be made as to how it may be integrated into the contract. New language may have to be written, or it may be possible to make minor changes to current language which will accomplish the change. The final review of our contract proposals, at least the ones developed by the Local Union, occurred at a meeting of your Local Union Council this last December. Local 323 has always worked to provide our Members with a voice at the bargaining table; so, the recent submission of proposals was taken seriously.
Its worth noting that not every proposal took the same route to the destination. Some Members sent a proposal directly to the National Union, some sent their proposals to the Local Union, and some called me with their ideas and asked me to write the proposal for them. Regardless of how your proposal was sent, thank you again for your participation.
Recently, I had the opportunity to see all the proposals submitted to the National Union while serving as a member of the Field Negotiating Committee. This was the third time I’ve served on this committee and I was impressed by the focus of the people involved. Our National Officers are to be commended for assembling a group of qualified and committed people for this task. We discussed and evaluated all the proposals which had been submitted. I must admit that it was impressive to see the wide range of proposals submitted by Mail Handlers from across the country. Still, what impressed me most was seeing that an idea from one of our plants in Eagan, or a suggestion from Minneapolis, or an issue we discussed in Fargo, was now a proposal in Washington DC. It made me proud of our Members, our Stewards, our Officers, and it made me proud to be a Member of Local 323.
So, when all’s said and done, will a proposal from Local 323 make it into the National Agreement? I can’t say for sure; but I can say we’ve gotten some in before.