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This is What Democracy Looks Like?

July 12, 2012

I worked for a company that prided itself on happy employees.  There were mandatory meetings “training” employees on how to handle union organizers, pointing out the amazing benefits that the company gave without a union – and we got to vote on the package of benefits every few years.  Only employees who worked at least 30 hours got benefits, and before long lots of workers got their hours cut to less than 30 hours a week – that’s something we didn’t get to vote on.  My question is, how do you organize when management works so hard to make it look like we don’t need one?

— A 'Happy' Employee ,Colorado

Answer:

Sounds like you need to contact Jimmy Carter.  There are definitely election improprieties when the boss is the only one who decides when to have an election and on what.

That’s the problem with noblesse oblige – the nobles don’t always feel obliged.  So, they can offer great benefits to full-timers on the one hand and move people to part-time status to avoid paying out on the other.

Organizing is talking to other people to find common ground (benefits you can count on), identify the problem (capricious management) and develop a strategy (strength in numbers).  

Start with your friends and the co-workers who others look up to.  Talk about the bait and switch and see what things are bothering them.  Point to examples of other employees standing together to get change in their workplace like these:

http://www.aflcio.org/Blog/Organizing-Bargaining

And contact your local labor movement for advice.  You can find the State Federation of Labor and the Central Labor Council for your city at this link:  http://www.aflcio.org/About/Find-a-State-or-Local-AFL-CIO

Standing up to your boss can be risky, but really, nothing ventured, nothing gained.