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Get To Work!
Despite the continuing furlough obligation as we entered the second hiring period of the 2015 employment plan, for the first time in a very long time, every unemployed “A” construction member registered as available for work both in NYC and in Local 3 North were offered the opportunity to go to work, a long way from 3,000 unemployed in our jurisdiction for more than a year and the continuing struggle to get our members to work in Westchester. The construction industry historically slows down and building trades workers are used to peaks and valleys in construction. Our wages reflect the fact that we don’t expect of full year of work, but the expanded work opportunity is a good sign and hopefully one that signals an abundance of work in NYC.
While unemployment brings hardship and challenges, full employment brings its own set of challenges. First and foremost, we need to recognize how fragile our position in the market really is. Our customers have a choice on which electrical contractor to use for their jobs and many have been driven to the non-union side strictly because of the lower cost. Some have given up on the union trades because of our work rules and jurisdictional disputes within the trades themselves and some because a lack of productivity or a sense of entitlement that workers tend to display if they think a layoff would mean just a transfer to a different job. The most challenging is the issue of productivity. Nothing could be worse than having a customer go non-union because they thought they would not get the productivity that they are paying for. Local 3’s success has been because of our productivity. A fair days work for a fair days pay is what has kept our members at work.
The Code of Excellence puts specific requirements on both the Union, its members and the employers. As we are all well aware, there is enough down-time on a construction job outside of our control, specifically the challenge of vertical transportation that when you have been supplied the proper tools and materials, the work has been properly assigned and laid out there is no reason that we should not be doing what we are getting well-paid to do. If that customer is not getting proper production they will never use us again. It only takes a few to damage the good work that 99% of our members do every day. The same applies to our members working on 80/20 jobs. Without the adjustment Local 3 members would not be on that job. Eighty non-union residential projects in 2014, sixteen union, the sad reality is that we need to adapt if we are going to survive, without the adjustment they could have all been non-Union.
Many of our members have had to adapt in-order to provide for their families during periods of unemployment; but now that the work opportunity is here our obligation is to man the jobs including the overtime that may be required on the project. Our customers will not wait around if we don’t provide the quality service that they are paying good money for. I urge each and every member to take that responsibility seriously and to understand that your actions affect the rest of this membership and that there are consequences that go well beyond your behavior. This Union has a proud history and a great reputation for doing the right thing. Don’t be the one that make those that use our services look somewhere else. The benefits that Local 3 provides for our families depend on it. Every job is different, some good and some difficult conditions vary all the time but regardless they all end and if we continue to demonstrate that the success of that job was because of the quality of our skills and our productivity we won’t have to worry about sitting on the bench hoping that another one comes along.
Union World edition:
The fundamental premise of a Union is that individuals commit to one another that they will not work for an employer that is not signatory to a collective bargaining agreement. That they will not, under any circumstances, provide their skill, knowledge and expertise to assist non-signatory employers at succeeding in their industry.
The Union is not those who are elected to serve the membership. Like the rank-and-file member, the officials of the Union are also members of the Union and have made the same commitment.
The Union is the commitment and nothing short of that commitment.
The officials of the Union, when speaking on issues of concern to members, are speaking on their behalf and with one voice. Members who publicly challenge that voice are undermining their fellow members.
Every member must guard against such behavior for the good of all.
In order for those whose responsibility is to act as officials of the Union to be successful at protecting the interest of their fellow members, the rank-and-file must support their officials. Without the support of the general membership, the adversaries of the Union will use the schism to their advantage.
No member should permit such circumstances to occur.
Our strength is in our solidarity to our commitment to one another.
The only disease that can weaken our Union is a membership that believes it is disenfranchised, ignored and disregarded.
Every member has an obligation to themselves and to their fellow members to guard against such beliefs worming their way into their thoughts.
Every member may not always agree with a chosen path, but every member must recognize that public criticism of a path chosen undermines the Union.
We must ask ourselves, what do we do to strengthen our Union?
Do we attend monthly Union meetings? If yes, how many in the course of a year? Are we attentive to what is being stated? Are we always skeptical of what is said or are we more inclined to assist in implementing programs being initiated? Can we make a greater effort to be participants in our Union?
In Local 3, in addition to monthly union meetings, there is opportunity to interact with our officials through the many social clubs to which many members belong.
Membership is more than just paying dues. We must strengthen the camaraderie that exists among many members and extend it out to every member. Encourage all members to recognize the obligation they have to one another. Have all participate in every event.
The more members who participate in demonstrations, picket lines, political campaigns for politicians supportive of workers, voter registration drives, general elections, union elections and other activities within Local 3 including becoming “MIJ Boot Camp” instructors and mentors in the “Membership Mentoring Program,” as well as numerous committees organized by the individual business representatives, clubs, divisions and social organizations can only result in a stronger commitment to one another which results in a stronger Union!
The Sportsmen's Club of IBEW Local # 3