Banks and stock exchanges, the army and political parties, religious institutions and prisons have centuries-long history. First unions were organized a little more than two hundred years ago. But during this little historical period they have proved to be an effective mechanism, the skillful use of which can transform life of each individual employee, and society in general.
Union – is a complex and high-profile mechanism. This is a symphony orchestra, not barrel-organ.
The previous years’ practice have shown that the union and its development is possible almost everywhere in U.S.A., in fact, the beginning of this work can inspire and encourage those who already tired of blind hoping. This is a job that gives visible results.
And so we came to the decision of creating a union within an enterprise where it has never existed before.
According to American law the establishment of a trade union within the enterprise is only possible with the support of most of its workers.
First, we need to think in advance of all the details of future operations. We need to evaluate the readiness of the team to take decisive action to protect their rights and enter into a sharp conflict with the authorities. If “people are not ready enough,” and the tension and frustration in the group appear only in the form of conversations, it is better to think twice before getting involved. Rule number one for us is to keep a low profile until the creation of the trade union in our workplace will not be over. To think about which of the colleagues could make the case without any regrets.
We should exclude from the list those colleagues, who were involved in any informal contacts with the administration or benefit from it: personal secretary, accountant, personnel officer. We should ignore those who like to talk on any occasion as the chatterboxes are dangerous for the venture like this one. We will take only those whom we personally trust, who have worked for many years. We can start our activity if there are at least two people in the team. The more we get – the sooner we will see the results. But at this stage the number is not the point. Next, we will inform the “trusted personnel” about our plans and describe the benefits of joining the union ranks.
Next important step is to ask all participants to sign the protocol of the meeting. Then we will distribute the sheets of white paper and ask everyone to write an application to join the union. All the leaflets we add to the special file. In any case, it is important to make copies of all papers. And it is vital to keep it at home.
Immediately after that, we have to visit the office of a higher trade union body, which we have previously chosen. We take the data file and look for a person in charge who deals with fresh unions. We present our papers, proving the founding meeting. It’s important to explain the particular nature of the manager, and ask not to report the administration about the establishment of the union in any case. At this stage there is a necessity to agree on the mechanism of union dues transfered for as long as the union will not work officially. If we don’t get a promise to remain incognito, but will be persuaded not to interfere with the administration, we should avoid such a union.
The negotiations with the parent union body should result in one important document – official paper, proving that our primary organization was registered.
We should always keep in mind that the most important issue that we will face in the process of creating a union – is a reaction of company management.
The establishment of a trade union does not need any permission. Therefore, if the administration finds out something about the union and will say: “This is my private business. I’m the boss here, so there will be no union!” – We should calmly advise him to read the provisions of the Law on Trade Unions and Labor Code.
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Trade unions proved the principles of social partnership around the world, including the United States. This means a commitment to peaceful means for conflict resolution. It is possible that the manager will try to immediately accuse us of discharge conditions, creating a conflict situation, etc. In this case, we should remember that the unions are willing to compromise, only where labor abuses are random and not systematic.
It is difficult to avoid violent conflicts with employers that breach labor laws and violate the rights of workers.
The next step will be the work to expanding the number of members of the union. Of course, it’s better not to post the announcement of the establishment of the union. But we have to increase the number of union members taking the trusted staff in. However, at this stage, we may face the information leak.
At a time when the number of union members is about 10 people, and most of the staff of the company apprised of the fact of its creation, there comes a very important moment – to present our activity to the administration.
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At this critical moment we must have the text of the Labor Code with bookmarks to relevant pages. It is important to inform the manager of some provisions of the Law on Trade Unions.
After that, we can draw attention of the manager to the fact that from now on any order of dismissal on the grounds of redundancy, discrepancy between the position and employee’s skills or because of the prolonged illness will have to be coordinated with the trade union committee.
We should also try to negotiate about automatic subtraction of union dues from the wages of union members and a free transfer to the bank account specified by us.
In most cases the administration will do everything possible to destroy the union – this is another important issue.
Unfortunately, our board of directors has many opportunities and techniques to do this. In this regard, it is important to keep track of these efforts and to oppose the destructive policies of the administration legally.
As a rule, the administration will begin to put pressure on the most vulnerable link in the chain of trade union – workers who are most dependent on it because of their functional responsibilities or for other reasons– we have to be ready for this. Therefore, it will be necessary to endow such a category of people among the trade union participants and provide them with additional guaranties against displacement, harassment and dismissal. It should also be noted that in order to discredit and destroy the primary trade union organization, the administration often does not shun any means, including the dirtiest ones.
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We must remember that some of our members are likely to bite the bait of administration and will announce their withdrawal from the union. In this case, we should legally record the matter.
Now, after the creation and expansion of our union, it will become an important active part of the company with which the administration has to deal. No manager will support us in our affairs, but this is not important. Trade unions perform the opposition against injustice and unworthy conditions.
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