Your union has made every effort to make you aware of labor history, a neglected part of our American history, but now it’s time to look forward.
Union members have been the recognized professionals in all fields of trade craft. The reason is simple, they have the training, experience, and pride to do whatever job in whatever trade they are in, regardless of the circumstances. Union members are proud, tough, and honest working men and women who realize and accept the fact that they must work for a living, but also accept the responsibility that they have a duty to themselves, coworkers, and family to see that the work they perform is done correctly, safely, and has the kind of pay and benefits that make the trade off of time and skill worth it for them and their Brothers and Sisters.
The attributes that make up a good union member are those who make up any good person. The difference is that a union person expands these to his fellow union members the same way they would for family and closest friends. They include:
- Integrity: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. Unions deal with schemes hatched by those who may have questionable integrity, to the point of overt dishonesty. Our members must hold themselves and each other to a higher standard. If a union member is wrong, then the honorable thing to do is humbly admit it, own it, learn from it, and move on.
- Honesty: the foundation for trust in a relationship, and trust is necessary for a union to function and thrive. When you’re always honest with someone, it tells them that they can trust you and the things you say. It helps them know they can believe your promises and commitments.
- Fairness: impartial and just treatment or behavior without favoritism or discrimination. All union members are not alike, but each one needs to be treated with the same deference as any other, without bias. This is regardless of political or social views a member may hold because those are the things union busters will try to use to divide the membership.
- Respect: is an attitude of considering someone else’s perspective and holding another fellow member in esteem. It’s shown by; listening to others, affirming people’s opinions, empathizing with different perspectives, disagreeing respectfully with being disagreeable, apologizing when you’re wrong, calling out disrespectful behavior, complimenting the achievements of others, and showing gratitude.
- Maturity: an emotionally mature person is always adding value to themselves and those around them. A curious and learning attitude form a key part of a mature persons daily activities and goals. They are able to understand and manage their own emotions. They also acknowledge that our common goals are more important than petty gripes and personality conflicts.
- Professionalism involves being reliable, setting your own high standards, and showing that you care about every aspect of your job. It’s about being industrious and organized, and holding yourself accountable for your thoughts, words and actions.
A union member knows themselves, their job, and that their union has their back. They don’t have to be afraid of the ‘boss’, and know that they can call on a fellow union member for help. A union Brother/Sister stands up for each other. Most of all, union workers forgive each other, when needed.
All the above may seem a tall order for someone who’s young, making more money than they ever dreamed possible, and may question what a union can do for them. The answer is simple, even if you dismiss everything above, and that is you are blessed with a good job that pays well and gives you a path into the ranks of America’s middle class, a place union membership created.
Question is, “is your job worth protecting?”
There comes a time in every working persons life when they must take stock of themselves and the people they work with. By doing this, they set their own opinions and make moral and social adjustments in whom they confer and confide with and those they don’t. This requires and honest evaluation of one’s own wants, needs, and desires, and leads to the same examination of these in others.
A union works for the betterment of ALL it’s members, and each true union member should do the same. If you work with someone who consistently plants doubts about your union in your ear or those in your crew, and even openly attacks your union, it may be time to examine their motivations.
You have tools to help you overcome and develop within your union. One is your Collective Bargaining Agreement. Your CBA forms the foundation of your union. Your duty is to know it and enforce it when the company deviates from it. You can do this by confronting management directly (with another union member as a witness), through your steward, or by utilizing the grievance procedure in your CBA. In support of the CBA is your union’s website, which has a lot of information for our members, as well as your union’s Facebook page.
Your National Union, Local Union, it’s officers, and affiliates are the only mechanisms in place that fights for you. It is up to you to fight for it because without solidarity, there is no union.
Your union is what you make of it!
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