"There is no contract language that can actually substitute for a strong and militant membership action," said Victor Key, Local 1010. The unions complaints about subcontracting got the attention of management at the GE aircraft overhaul shop in Ontario, Calif. after well-publicized picketing and militant action, he reported.
Management needs to see the members in action, emphasized Sam Lopez, Local 896. To reach a second contract, graduate employees of the University of Iowa backed their bargaining committee by gathering outside of the room where negotiations took place "yelling, screaming, marching, waving flags, playing loud music, being obnoxious." Without that action from the bottom up, the union cant survive, she said.
Contracts, and rights on the job, would be worthless without strong membership backing, suggested Glenn Bush, Local 1107. Management ordered second-shift workers at Farnam Sealing Systems to remove union stickers and buttons or be sent home. Most workers refused and were sent home and the union succeeded in having them paid for the time lost, he reported.
Bosses like to see grievances fall into the legalistic trap of binding arbitration, commented Barry Rideout, Local 120. "If you have an active membership and have a real struggle going on in your shop, its always good to get the members involved because a majority of the time you can keep a lot of potential grievances from even reaching that point," he said.
Joe Chavez, District 10, recalled how after his first negotiations, he thought that having a contract meant that now the union "had it made." But the UE field organizer assigned to Local 1014 smiled, shook his head and said, "now youve got to defend it." "And how true that has been over the last 36 years that Ive been in the shop," Chavez said.
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