This month we braved the rumors of the Hell’s Angels and Pagans War and made it through the monthly meeting unscathed. We covered many topics as always and there was no shortage of input. We went over upcoming events as these next couple of months will be busy ones for our Local.
We got an update on the 2nd Annual 304 Family Picnic. We went over the menu, activities, raffles, etc. we will have there. Unfortunately, we will not have last years DJ to MC the event, but there will be music and entertainment provided by one of our members. The picnic will be held on September 21st at the Clarksburg Veterans Park in the Osbourne Shelter from 1200 to 1800. This is the same venue as last year and should prove to be an enjoyable time for all who attend.
We went over the current issues affecting our members. The big thing on everyone’s mind seemed to be the Volunteer Time Off Program and the Work Life Balance Program both proposed by First Energy. The Volunteer Time Off Program is designed to allow First Energy employees the opportunity to volunteer for nonprofit organizations and charities up to 16 paid hours a year. This was offered recently to Union members, but there are still some details that need to be hammered out before we decide to participate. The Work Life Balance Program seems to present a different set of problems. Since we have employees that work many different shifts at different times and schedules, it has been tough to get something that works for everybody without bringing Trade or Flex Time back. Flex Time is one of the issues being discussed and there is a push from Chuck Jones himself to make Work Life Balance possible for ALL employees, both Union and Company alike. Both sides are taking this seriously and we hope to have some information on both programs soon.
Lastly, we covered nominations and elections coming up. It’s that time to elect your officers once again. We will have nominations of Union Officers at our regular September Monthly Meeting flowed by elections for our Union Officers at October’s Monthly Meeting. If you would like to run for office or think you know someone who would be good at the job, next month is your time to shine.
This is a busy time of year for all of us especially with school in the local counties starting up later this month. There will be increased traffic on the roads and plenty of student drivers to look out for. If you’re like me, there is one bus that just messes your whole day up, but try to stay calm and safe while you’re out on the roads. Our next Monthly Meeting will be held September 10th at Brickside Bar and Grill at 1545. Come out and enjoy some food and get a little information about what’s been happening at work while you eat.
This month’s meeting was informative as always. We covered the usual subjects and really took a step back to focus on safety. We talked thoroughly about the incident that put one of members in the hospital here recently. Also, we investigated things we could do outside of work to get together in fellowship and just unwind.
There were two committees formed during this meeting. One committee was designated for the annual union picnic, and the other was formed to help organize events for our members and families to get together and know one another better. With many folks retiring and having such a wide spread of departments, it’s difficult to get to know one another. Giving the opportunity to meet outside of work in a different environment would be a good way to learn about each other and put some faces with the names. Of course, the 1st Annual Union Picnic was a blast and there were many people that couldn’t attend that was hoping for an opportunity this year. The date for the picnic will be locked in soon. Shortly thereafter, information will be sent out to the members.
I’ve seen a lot of worn 304 T-Shirts and Sweatshirts out there and it has not gone unnoticed. The stewards will be coming around in the near future with order forms and every member will get one t-shirt, one long sleeved t-shirt, and one pullover or zip up sweatshirt. There will also be an opportunity to purchase any additional t-shirts, etc. at cost if anyone would like to have more than the one each that will be provided.
If you made it to this meeting, then you may have noticed we are moving into the 21st century. The Executive Board has received their computers and a few other things to help with fillings, meetings, etc.. Stu Whitehair showed off some of the benefits when certain subjects were mentioned during the meeting that Stu was able to go back in the files and pull all the notes that surrounded these topics on the spot. These computers will be passed down to every Executive Board Member as they change hands over the years making our filling and data collecting much more efficient.
Lastly, we talked about safety and what happened in May to our own Steve Bolyard. I would like to take the time now to remind everyone to work safe and keep your mind on the task at hand.
Unfortunately, we have a **Behavior Based Safety Program (BBS) here at the plant that basically means no matter what happens, the employee involved is assumed as having done something wrong. There are procedures, training, engineering controls, etc. that are meant as the first lines of defense, but the sad reality is that we are all too often left to rely on ourselves and our Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
The safety slogans Prevention-Detection-Correction (PDC), Situational Awareness (2-Minute Drill), Stop Think Act Review (STAR), etc. that are used around here should are pretty catchty. We hear them so much they’re just turned into acronyms for our obedient consumption. Forget the slogans, I urge everyone of us to use common sense and take a moment to think about what you are about to do and stop if there is even one inkling of doubt or fear. Safety stops all jobs no matter what. There will be no recourse for refusing to preform an unsafe act when asked, but there will be recourse if you are injured while preforming that unsafe act you were told to do.
Not to mention that no one wants to be injured or maimed.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Steve Bolyard and his family in this difficult time. We hope for a speedy recovery and return to work. Also, I would like to thank our Executive Board for stepping up during a tough time and putting their personal lives on hold to be available for Steve and his family when they needed answers and guidance.
Our next meeting is scheduled for 7-9-19 at Brickside Bar and Grill at 1545. We should have plenty of information about the up and coming union picnic and many other things that have been happening. If you’ve got questions, concerns, or would just like to stay informed then the monthly meeting is the place to do that. Hope to see you there.
There was a good turn out to this month’s meeting. We went over the usual updates with the state of the union and where we stand with some of our issues. We had guest speakers come in from the West Virginia Education Association’s (WVEA) Union, Local Harrison County Education Association (HCEA). We also went over some of the info for the up and coming UWUA National Convention and Union Members and Stewards Trainings.
We started the meeting with a recap of our last meeting and an update on some of the issues we had discussed during January’s Meeting. We covered the recent concern of seniority we have been facing with the influx of transferees from other power stations/branches of First Energy. We talked about the sick time problems we still face with doctor notes and the possible Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violations we are seeing.
Most of this month’s meeting revolved around the guest speakers that came to give us updates on the content of Senate Bill 451 (SB451). Greg Phillips, Vice President of WVEA Local HCEA, and Connie Baker, Treasurer of WVEA Local HCEA, talked extensively about SB451 and why it is a bad deal for our children, tax payers, and the state of West Virginia as a whole. They thanked us for the support we showed them almost exactly a year ago during the recent Teacher Strike of 2018. It was an eye-opening experience for those of us not familiar with SB451 to hear what the bill actually contains. There is a link below to SB451 for anyone who wishes to familiarize themselves with what has been the most recent attack from the West Virginia Legislature on our unions here in the state. As of this Monthly Update the West Virginia House of Representatives passed the bill on February 14th, 2019. The link provides all amendments and where the bill currently stands in legislation and is updated in real time.
We covered a little more information about the UWUA National Convention being held in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 24th through July 27th of this year. The Union is still looking to send two members with all expenses paid by the local. If you are interested in attending this year’s UWUA National Convention, please let a member of the Executive Board know. The Union Members and Stewards Training being held for all the Union Locals in Charleston West Virginia is still tentatively scheduled for May 18th of this year. The date is subject to change, but we will go over more about the date and time in next month’s meeting. If interested in attending, please let a member of the Executive Board know.
The next Monthly Meeting is scheduled at Brickside Bar and Grill for March 12, 2019. Due to the Spring Maintenance Outage this year starting in March the time will most likely be changed to 1845. Flyers will be hung on the Union Boards around the plant and the union will try to inform every one of the time changes. I know the outage makes it tough for everyone to attend with the change in work schedules, but if there is anything that you feel needs covered, brought to the union’s attention, or you would just like to stay informed I urge you to attend. Stay focused on working safely with the extra hours and unfamiliar jobs coming up with the outage. Hope to see you at the next meeting.
The first meeting of the year was held this month, and it was nice to get back into the swing of things. We did a recap of the last year, went over some carry over items, and went over some new matters that are or will be facing us in the year to come. We talked about some of the conventions and trainings available to us for this year also.
We started off the meeting covering some of the things we have been through over the past year. We discussed past grievances, arbitrations, contractual wording and issues, etc.. We got an idea of what has been carried over into this year and where we stand on everything that has been happening. Both the Company and the Union continue to try and work together to hammer out some of the finer points of our misunderstandings, and it seems to have paid off. We have come a long way from the discourse experienced in the beginning of our Union existence and, with the efforts being put forth from both the Union and the Company, it will continue to get better in time. Don’t get me wrong, we are a far cry from perfect harmony, but looking from the beginning until now things have slowly improved.
We went over some of the issues we continue to have and the effects they have on us. We talked about our up and coming arbitrations and status with current grievances. The meetings are always a good resource to get a glimpse into another department that may seem foreign to the way another department handles things or what they are going through. The meetings are also a good way to get different ideas of handling any issues that may exist in different departments.
We were informed about the UWUA National Convention being held in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 24th through July 27th of this year. The Union is looking to send two members this year so let a member of the Executive board know if you are interested in attending. We were also apprised of a Union Members and Stewards Training being held for all the different Unions in Charleston West Virginia. The tentative date for this training is May 18th of this year. the date is subject to change, but any members interested in attending this training should contact a member of the Executive Board.
The next Monthly Meeting is scheduled at Brickside Bar and Grill for February 12, 2019 at 1545. If there is anything that you feel needs brought up or you would just like to stay informed I urge you to attend. The next couple of meetings will be in the middle of the Spring Outage and may be difficult for some to attend.
The first meeting for 2017 went off without a hitch. There was a good turn out from every department and Bernie LaBelle was there also. As always, we covered many different topics and had some catching up to do since our last meeting in November. There was a brief training after the meeting for some of the newer officers and stewards to help with transitioning into their new positions.
We started the meeting by going over some of the arbitration hearings we have had and where we stand on those. Bernie LaBelle explained the last arbitration which was just ruled on. He also covered the steps leading up to and where things go after arbitration hearings. We took a look back at what we have been dealing with the last year and talked about where we would like to see things go this year.
There were some things brought up in the meeting about contractors working our jobs, work we have done in the past going away, supervisors doing our work, etc. Please be reminded that we have a grievance process, and we need to use it. If you see something that should not go on get a fellow union member, takes notes, times, dates, who, when, where, and file a grievance. This applies to anything we might see out there, not just someone doing our work. It doesn’t matter what department this is happing in. If it is not your department and you feel funny about filing a grievance then talk to that department’s union steward. Remember, filing a grievance is not a bad thing, and it will not get you into any kind of trouble. It is the first step to fixing what is wrong in the workplace, contract, and it could even keep someone from getting injured on the job.
Thank you to all the members that participated in the Angel Tree this Year. We were able to meet our goal and a local family benefited from our generosity. Sometimes it is hard to think that in this day and age there are those families that don’t have much or children whose only food comes from the school meal program. I can assure you that this is still the case today and your contributions to the less fortunate are greatly appreciated.
If you would like to know more about what goes on, would like to participate in any of the programs, or don’t like the way things are going and want to help change things I encourage you to come to the monthly meetings. The meetings are the best place to keep up with what is going on across our plant, local union, and national union. Hope to see you next month.
I saw something on our local’s web site that bothered me a little bit. It insinuated that somehow things are getting back to Plant Management from our meetings. Now, I am no one special and really don’t have much to say most of the time, but I couldn’t believe what I was reading.
I attend our monthly meetings when I can and I think of them as a place where I can express myself, with whatever tone or way that I want, without it leaving those four walls. I am not saying we should go to the meetings to yell, scream, and carry on like animals with impunity. I am simply saying that I treat the meetings as a sounding board or “rough draft”. A place where I can get other opinions, feedback, and direction when needed. One day I may even be able to help someone else in this way.
Having said all of that, I usually try to look for the good in everything and I have a hard time believing that someone in our midst is an actual turncoat. I am going to hope that whatever information got out and however it got out was an accident. Maybe someone else over heard something said and it slipped out that way, I am not sure.
I would just like to remind my fellow Union Members that loose lips sink ships. While whatever is said at the meetings is not something we are trying to hide, it could be used against other members when it was not intended to be. Remember some things are “rough drafts” and still need a little fine tuning before it is presented in an official capacity.
I know it is tough to get the information out from the meetings when we don’t see each other outside of work or meetings very often. Somethings that take place at work are hard not to talk about and I get that. I hate to sound like a broken record, but these are the reasons we need our members at our meetings. The members that do attend our meetings can’t give you all the information you are looking for. It is hard to remember what is said and why when we cover so many topics. Also, you never know the intent of someone listening close by or if you got all of the facts right to begin with.
I just want everyone to remember that we are all in this together. Unfortunately, lines have been drawn. While we didn’t draw these lines and hope they will disappear soon, we have to stay together. Remember that true progress takes time and it takes even longer if we don’t stay focused on the task at hand. Our task at hand is to make a better and safer work place for everyone.
This week at our plant the Company Employees found out that they will no longer have sick time as of January 1st, 2016. Before we start gloating, it is not all bad news for them, as they will get five extra vacation days to help with anytime they need to call in sick. However, they will not get paid their new sick time of five days if they are not hospitalized for any type of surgery or treatment that they may need.
While I don’t know all the details of this new item the Company Employees have to abide by, it did get me thinking how nice it is that we have a contract that protects us from sudden last minute policy changes like this.
Our Collective Bargaining Agreement gives us certain rights with the rules and regulations the Company has to follow. If a change is going to be made, it will generally not happen until the new contract is in place and our Union has the power to negotiate these things away on our behalf. I know there are some growing pains right now with our first contract implementation, but our Union Officers are working on their own time to get these things straighten out.
Lately it has seemed like there is always some kind of battle between the Company and the Union on some of the simplest, most common sense scenarios.
It is always so easy to see the negative side of things and sometimes you have to look hard for the positive.
I would like you to think, what if you were one of those company people that just got told you no longer have sick time. Maybe you were planning an outpatient surgery after January 2016. You now would not get paid for the first five to seven days of the time off that you have to take because of the wear and tear on your body that working in this type of industry can cause.
I know our contract is not perfect, but it is nice to know we have some level of protection. This holiday season brings a lot for us to be thankful for. Another year with my family, the fact I have a good paying job in these uncertain times, a roof over my head to keep me warm, etc. are some of the things I am thankful for.
Our Union, Collective Bargaining Agreement, and Union Officers are also some of those things we should think about when we think how blessed we are. With the Union Officers and the Collective Bargaining Agreement to back them up we don’t have to worry about things like our sick time going away.
I understand it is hard to see the good when every little thing can be a battle. I recently had to sit through my first grievance discussion and I see what our Union Officers have to go through every time they have to meet with the Company. Because of that I want to say, “Thank You to our Union Officers,” and would like to encourage you to do the same.
These are the times we need to stay strong and together as we try to work out the Company/Union differences. It can be very stressful to do what they do and they are doing it free of charge, for you, for nothing more than what we get out of it.
Like the song says, “You don’t know what you’ve got, til it’s gone.”
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your families!
NOTE: If we. the union, find out more information on the Enhanced Time Off Program changes the company is implimenting on non-bargaining employees and our exempt personnel, we will share them at our Regular Monthly Meeting and discuss them with the membership to see what YOU think about it. What we know about it right now is only rumor and speculation and we warn the membership about believing anything unless we recieve the Summary Plan Description (SPD) and review it. We will not ask for the SPD unless this is something the company would want 304 to consider, and then we have the RIGHT and OBLIGATION, because WE ARE A UNION, to study it thoroughly and present it to the membership for consideration. We have a choice because WE ARE A UNION of Brothers and Sisters!
I saw the story below on the WDTV the other day, and there was one part of this story that stood out to me. It was a quote from one of the people interviewed.
They said, “I work for a place where I am union, and that’s just how it is,” says Elaine Darnell of Morgantown. “But, I have the choice to work there or not to work there, so…”.
Whether you are for or against Right-To-Work, unions, etc. ; this quote holds true for both sides of the issue. It is your choice to work where you do, and if you don’t like where you work you look for another job.
You have the Right To Work already, as well as the right to NOT work, but don’t kid yourself; Right To Work is about weakening unions and impeding their ability to protect workers rights.
Click below for the entire story:
Written by Matthew Baumgarten
Here is something I came across that I thought would be beneficial to all of our members. It gives a brief history of 36 things unions have done for America’s Work Force and includes places for discounts only offered to union members.
36 reasons why you should thank a union
Show your support for the labor movement! If for some reason you can’t join a union, but want to support your fellow working Americans and fight for good jobs and a just economy, join Working America at www.WorkingAmerica.org.
When you join Working America – or if you’re already a union member — you are automatically eligible for Union Plus discounts and benefits at www.UnionPlus.org – including legal services, health savings, financial services and discounts on everything from AT&T wireless, car rentals and other travel, auto insurance, flowers, entertainment, movies and much more! Union members are also eligible for their union’s Union Plus benefits!
Did you know that labor unions made the following 36 things possible?
1. Weekends without work
2. All breaks at work, including your lunch breaks
3. Paid vacation
4. Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
5. Sick leave
6. Social Security
7. Minimum wage
8. Civil Rights Act/Title VII – prohibits employer discrimination
9. 8-hour work day
10. Overtime pay
11. Child labor laws
12. Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA)
13. 40-hour work week
14. Workers’ compensation (workers’ comp)
15. Unemployment insurance
17. Workplace safety standards and regulations
18. Employer health care insurance
19. Collective bargaining rights for employees
20. Wrongful termination laws
21. Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)
22. Whistleblower protection laws
23. Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) – prohibits employers from using a lie detector test on an employee
24. Veteran’s Employment and Training Services (VETS)
25. Compensation increases and evaluations (i.e. raises)
26. Sexual harassment laws
27. Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
28. Holiday pay
29. Employer dental, life, and vision insurance
30. Privacy rights
31. Pregnancy and parental leave
32. Military leave
33. The right to strike
34. Public education for children
35. Equal Pay Acts of 1963 & 2011 – requires employers pay men and women equally for the same amount of work
36. Laws ending sweatshops in the United States
Thank a union member by buying union-made in America products! UNION MEMBERS: Use your Union Plus union-made discounts here.
Copyright ©2015 Union Privilege. All rights reserved. Union Plus benefits are for participating union members, retirees and their families.
Union Privilege, 1100 1st ST NE, Suite 850, Washington, DC 20002
Opinion: The Boston Globe
In George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984,” the authoritarian government uses institutionalized propaganda to assure citizens of the benevolence with which it pursues questionable objectives. Thus, the Ministry of Peace oversees endless militarization and war with global powers, while the Ministry of Plenty strictly rations the distribution of food and medicine. These dark ironies gave rise to the notion of “Orwellian” society and made the author a household name. Sixty-five years later, reality has caught up with fiction as America’s federal agencies work to undermine the very purpose for which they were designed.
In Southwest Colorado this month, the Environmental Protection Agency caused a massive spill of toxic sludge into Rocky Mountain rivers and streams. Last year, the Veterans Administration was found to be systematically manipulating data, denying thousand of veterans health care access. Last week it was revealed that a technology glitch denied coverage to another 35,000 combat veterans. As engineers like to observe, one point makes for data, two makes a trend.
When government agencies undertake activity that results in consequences that are the opposite of their stated mission, something has gone awry. Apologists for the Obama administration are quick to dismiss these catastrophes as isolated incidents beyond the control of Cabinet leadership. In fact, they are the direct result of government grown too big, too cumbersome, and too arrogant to operate effectively.
In Colorado, the EPA literally went looking for work. Digging into an abandoned mine (there are literally thousands across the Rockies), workers breached a containment area, spilling three million gallons of tainted sludge into the Animas and St. Juan river systems. As local leaders scrambled to assess damage, a plume of lead, arsenic, and other heavy metals flowed through New Mexico and Utah straight toward the Lake Powell reservoir.
This was no accident, just as the systemic failure at the Veterans Administration was no accident. They are the inevitable result of leadership that puts faith in bureaucracy, and bureaucracy that believes that good intentions and lots of regulations make common sense and efficiency unnecessary.
When businesses go down the wrong path — when they hire the wrong leaders, design the wrong product, or create a cost structure that is too high — they go out of business. But when government agencies do the same thing, there are rarely repercussions. The bureaucracies grow larger, leaders hire underlings who happily carry out every ill conceived decision, and the money continues to flow.
Following the mine disaster, the bureaucratic arrogance was palpable. For 24 hours, the EPA failed to notify local officials, who only learned of the spill when the river began to turn a disturbing mustard yellow. Then the EPA lied about the spill rate, claiming the flow was only a fraction of the actual 750-gallon-per-minute toxic deluge. Even states’ attorneys general were kept in the dark.
This cold indifference to those they serve reflects the command-and-control mentality of the Obama administration and conveys a deep distrust of business, markets, and capitalism. Ignoring this systemic failure, and consumed by a sense of self-righteousness, Obama’s bureaucrats reach ever deeper into the economy, pursuing expensive and unnecessary regulation of the internet, carbon emissions, and even car loans – the latter comes despite an explicit prohibition of proposed rules written into the law.
At EPA as elsewhere, arrogant leadership and incompetent bureaucracy are a dangerous combination. Today, America’s coal plants have never been cleaner, our nuclear plants have never been safer, and the evolution of fracking (a 40-yearold technology) has driven down energy costs to their lowest levels in decades. Blind to this reality, and searching for reasons to push for more funding, the EPA went looking for trouble and found it. It will take new leadership — and a long time — to clean up the mess they’ve left behind.
John E. Sununu, a former Republican senator from New Hampshire, writes regularly for the Globe