What to Do
Here are some possible actions for you to consider in resolving an issue.
- Action 1: Read the Master Collective Bargaining Agreement, also known as the contract and become familiar with your rights. It is also important that you know the procedures and practices that the Union and management have agreed to follow. The contract contains many agreed upon procedures that protect your interests.
- Action 2: Discuss your issue with the union immediately. In many situations there are deadlines for exercising your rights. If you wait you may forever lose the opportunity to resolve the issue. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask a union member, steward, chief steward, or union officer questions about your situation. They can help guide you on the best approaches for dealing with your situation or direct you to a person who can help you. By law you are entitled to representation.
- Action 3: Join the Union immediately. It pays to be a member even if you don’t have problems. Find out why you should join and understand the difference between employee representation for union versus non-union bargaining unit members.
- Action 4: If an incident occurs, document everything immediately. Request everything in writing, especially if the problem involves a supervisor. If the supervisor refuses to put things in writing and comes to your desk, calls you to his or her office, or calls you on the phone to talk about issues, immediately after the discussion send the supervisor a confirmation. A sample confirmation is as follows.”Please confirm that at (time), (date), we discussed (issue).”Be sure to list any conclusions, agreements, and outcomes of the discussion.
- Action 5: It may be appropriate for you to meet with your supervisor to discuss your concerns. If you don’t feel comfortable meeting with your supervisor alone, don’t be afraid to ask for a union representative to sit-in with you or speak for you. Be sure to confirm the meeting outcome as Action 4 above recommends.
- Action 6: Learn and become familiar with your rights. Know how laws and policies affect your situation. Know what you are up against. You would be surprised to learn the number of supervisor who are unaware of the proper procedures, laws, rules, regulations, directives, orders, and transmittals that govern what they can and cannot do.
- Action 7: If your supervisor or another management official asks to meet with you and you believe that the meeting may result in a disciplinary action you have the right to request a union representative be present. Management is not required to notify you of that right. You must tell them you want a union representative to be present. Don’t hesitate to exercise your right to have union representation.
- Action 8: Once you become a union member, get involved: Join committees, become a steward, run for office, volunteer for activities, and alert the union to potential problems. Give back for the help you have received. We all are the union. Therefore we all must help fight for a fair and equitable workplace for all.
In addition to the items above if you are having a personal problem consider using the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). However don’t delay taking the actions above because the time clock is still running while you’re getting assistance through the EAP program. For systematic problems that you may see across the agency, you can always let your elected representatives know your views.