February 2020 Update
The Tentative Agreement – Part III
Why I Support Ratification
The Membership will be receiving their ballots soon. This will provide each Member with an opportunity to participate in the decision to reject or accept the tentative agreement. After many discussions with Members, Officers, and Representatives, and after giving the matter much consideration, I have concluded that ratifying the tentative agreement is our best course of action. But let’s take a moment to examine how we got here and what ratification means.
The process aimed at obtaining the 2019 National Agreement has been underway for quite a while. This process began significantly before the 2016 National Agreement expired. Your Officers, Representatives, and I, have spared no effort in providing the Membership with opportunities for input throughout the process. This was done on the work floor, in the Union offices, at Branch Meetings, by bulletin board postings, and through numerous monthly columns on this web site. We prepared several contract proposals which Local 323 submitted to the National Union. Some individual Members submitted proposals as well. I’m proud of the effort put forth by our Officers and Representatives; and moreover, I’m proud of the Members who provided their input. This is how the process is supposed to work. Well done.
We now will vote on whether to reject or accept the tentative agreement. If we reject the tentative agreement, we will proceed to arbitration and all bets are off. This would mean that sometime in the future we would select an arbitrator, and sometime after that the arbitrator would conduct hearings, and sometime after that the arbitrator would issue a decision. This process could go on for many months. Additionally, there is no guarantee that we will do better in arbitration. If decades of collective bargaining have taught us anything, it’s that arbitration is unpredictable. We’ve seen it produce some results that we didn’t want. That’s just the nature of the process. Indeed, arbitration has often been described as a “crap shoot” or a “roll of the dice.”
It’s no secret that I’ve long favored negotiated settlements over arbitrated decisions. So, it’s really no surprise that I’m supporting ratification. But what exactly are we ratifying and what does ratification mean? Ratifying the tentative agreement means that it will become the 2019 National Agreement. It’s wage provisions and work rule changes will govern our work lives through September 20, 2022. It is important to recognize that these changes are no longer merely ideas, nor wishes being discussed on the floor, nor topics being discussed at a Branch Meeting, nor proposals being drafted for submission; they are concrete gains to our standard of living and improvements to our workplace rules. Is the tentative agreement perfect? Certainly not, but we cannot let the perfect become the enemy of the good. All things considered this is a good agreement.
Ratifying the tentative agreement does not mean that our quest for better terms and conditions of employment is over. It means that we accept these gains and will utilized them to form a foundation on which to build in the future. It is not the end of the road. Simply a milepost along the contractual road that we all travel throughout our careers. It is for now, not forever. This entire process will start again in less then two years and that will begin our path toward the 2022 National Agreement.
The National Union will be sending your ratification materials soon. Take the time to familiarize yourself with these materials. Express your opinion by voting. Exercising your right to participate in deciding your future is the most important part of this process. As always, you may contact your Officers, Representatives, or me, with any questions.