Question: I’m fed up. Management in my department doesn’t seem to respect our work. There’s too much to do, and not enough time to do it in. We’re all getting sick, the morale’s bad, and half of us just want to quit. We can’t deal with this any more. Help!
Answer: Unfortunately, it seems to be impossible to write an article into a Collective Agreement forcing management to manage well. Sometimes they end up managing badly or not at all, and the stress affects everyone. Although the Collective Agreement is a useful tool, the true power of the union lies first and foremost in a group of people all speaking up together. And you don’t have to wait for a strike, a lockout, or bargaining to do it. As employees, we all have a right to sit down with the other people in our department over coffee or lunch and talk about things that are going wrong and ways we would like to change them. Try to get down to the core of the problem, and brainstorm as many ways as possible to fix it.
Union reps will be happy to help you set up a meeting of your colleagues. They can also help you set up a meeting with your manager and strategize what to say. (If you don’t know your steward, you can find a list of reps in your location by clicking on Who’s Who at www.cmg.ca.) Sometimes management forgets that they need us as much as we need them, and sitting down with them and talking about the problems in the department can actually be very effective. Sometimes they know there are problems and don’t know how to fix them. Sometimes they don’t know there are problems at all. There are a few who know and don’t care, but a group of concerned and determined employees can usually convince any manager to care. Believe it or not, this is one of the most successful and fastest ways of getting things to change in the workplace. And if a meeting doesn’t work, you can always file a grievance.
Question: How do I get involved in the union?
Answer: There are several ways to get involved with your union. In many locations, local executive meetings are open to the general membership. Local executives have just been elected and are excited to get started, so now is a great time to get involved. If you have ideas about things the union should be doing, presenting the ideas and volunteering to help carry them out is a great way to become active. Talk to your local executive for support and resources, and go for it!
You can also get involved by joining a committee. Many locations have committees, as do most branches and the national. The National executive has opened up its committees to all members of the Guild, which is a great way to get involved with the CMG’s overall direction. Some of the committees, like the Advocacy Committee and the Equity and Human Rights Committee are politically engaged both within and beyond the Guild, while others, like Communications and New Members look at ways of engaging our membership. The Grants and Donations Committee and Investment Committee also help shape Guild politics and its future.
To get involved in a national committee, write to firstname.lastname@example.org .