Guest post by Older and Wiser.
Older and Wiser is a rural carrier.
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This is how I see it.
There used to be a comic strip titled POGO written by Walt Kelly. The story followed the lives of animals in a swamp. The strip was really a satirical look at American life, anything from politics to religion. Out of POGO came an often used phrase, ”We have met the enemy and they are us.” The meaning is, sometimes, we cause our own problems. This phrase reminded me of the NRLCA.
I was in the middle of putting this piece together when the July 28 editorial from Ruralinfo.Net was published, where she defended her attempts at keep her readers up to date on any information that was pertinent to our craft, even if it meant stepping on the toes of the NRLCA. The editorial is a perfect lead-in to my contribution.
The NLRCA really takes a beating on Ruralinfo. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned not to rush to judgment; I try to listen to both sides before I make any decision. The problem I have is I wait to hear from the NRLCA to defend themselves and there is no response. The silence from the union is deafening; it says a lot about them.
First, the dues-paying members want an organization that acts like pit bulls. When the NRLCA fails to fiercely defend their actions, they look more like lambs than pit bulls. That is scary when contract time comes around. Second, it looks like the union is hiding behind their silence. Where is the flow of information to the membership? In lieu of an informed carrier group, innuendo and disinformation reign. Third, when you, repeatedly, don’t respond to an honest question, it says that you really don’t care. This may be the most damning reason of all.
The Ruralinfo editorial was a perfect response to an accusation. She spelt out her side of the story in complete detail. This is the type of response I look for from the NRLCA. You may agree or disagree, but the decision you make is based on facts from both sides of the argument.
What can the NRLCA do? I see that the union has three outlets to get their information out. Let’s look at the Rural Carrier magazine. In the digital age, a monthly magazine cannot be a source of timely information. Personally, I just thumb through the magazine in about 3 minutes. Much of the information is not down at the carrier level. PAC contributions, convention lunches, and month old MOUs do not interest most carriers. Why don’t you ask the carriers what they would like in the magazine? That could help bring it back to relevance.
The NRLCA website could be a valuable outlet to get news out to the rank-in-file, but, again, I don’t really feel that the needs of the enrolled are being met. Even the copy of the latest rural contract on the site is the 2006-2010 agreement. It’s 2013 guys. There is no attempt to get a feel for what is going down in the field. There is no looking for input as to what the carriers are facing out there. You get a lot of the same generic info that makes the magazine a real “snoozer.”
The union will probably bristle at this suggestion, but their best solution might be to find a way to co-exist with Ruralinfo.Net. I go to Ruralinfo just about every day. I go to the NRLCA website every month or two. In reality, the union should have started Ruralinfo, but that ship has sailed, but there is still time to embrace and use Ruralinfo to the union’s advantage. There should be a representative from the union on the site and his nickname should reflect that fact. He would have the full knowledge and authority to respond to any questions and accusations. He could get timely info out to the carriers and help the union with their communications to the membership.
One of the biggest balls dropped was the Industrial Study. I can’t believe the lack of information on this subject. My biggest fear is that the union really doesn’t know what we carriers face in the field and will be going into the study at a real disadvantage. It is very possible that the union has the pulse of what’s going, but how would anybody know? WikiLeaks tried finding info from the union, but gave up and went back to stealing secrets from the U.S. government. It was easier.
It is time for the union to stand up and represent itself. Wake up, NRLCA, before you find your membership tuning you out.