United we stand??
Do we as a union stand united? Are we all for one and one for all? In my opinion, no we are not. We are nothing like the labor unions of the old days. We really do not have the kind of power they had back then. The best a postal union can do these days is TRY to persuade the USPS, a mediator, or an arbitrator that we deserve more. And that is what the NRLCA does.
But what about the thousands of members out there. Do you feel you are being represented by the NRLCA? Do you feel you are being informed by the NRLCA? Do you go to your meetings and conventions?
It has long been a belief of mine that there are two classes of NRLCA union members. Those that are the “in” crowd, and those that aren’t. What I mean by the in crowd is that they go to all the meetings and conventions and at the end of the day they end up with more information than the average union member that does not go to the meetings and conventions.
Should more members make a larger effort to attend these functions? Sure there are those that could go that never do. We will always have this problem. All unions have ALWAYS had this problem. It is called APATHY! It grows and it breeds with fierce strength. And I might add that it is not just a problem in unions, it is a problem in this country. Too many people stick their heads in the sand and trust that somebody else will do the right thing for them.. It is a HUGE problem and always will be. It is human nature to take the path of least effort.
But there are thousands of members out here that can NOT make it to the union functions. Some of them are too far away, some of them have other obligations, some of them have children, and so on and so on… It really doesn’t matter WHY they can’t make it. What matters is that they pay their union dues and they still deserve information.
So many times I hear, if you want the information go to the meetings… and if I can make time to go, you can too. How do you know? You or I have no idea what that person might have to deal with in their life. We have no idea what might keep them from going. But we automatically decide they are too lazy!
I don’t remember it being a “required” duty to attend the meetings and conventions when I joined this union. When I became a member all that was required for FULL union membership was paying my dues. Therefore it should be reasonable for me to think that any information the NRLCA puts out should be one of my member benefits?
And this brings me to a situation I want to share. The NRLCA officers have a presentation they are presenting to the State Conventions. They have told members at these conventions to share this information at their local meetings.. There have been several State Conventions where this information has already been shared. One would think it is free and open information right?? Not so fast… Someone sent me this information and National is livid. They have been going to other State Conventions berating me and this website for sharing it, and trying to find out WHO sent it to me… Really?? Information that is being shared with hundreds of Convention attendees, but Ruralinfo.net gets it and they are mad? Why? I can’t see any information in that presentation that should be secret. And if it is secret, why is it being shared with hundreds of people at state conventions?
Do I deserve less information than they do because I wasn’t there? Do you? Which brings me back to my earlier point. Are there two classes of union members? I believe there are. I believe the overall attitude of the NRLCA is that a member that attends the meetings and conventions deserves more information. And this attitude runs rampant through our union. If that is their way of thinking, here is mine. IF I deserve less member benefits, then I deserve to pay less in dues. You cannot take the same amount of money from me and give me less benefits than other members enjoy. I am not just a dollar sign.. I am a member that pays for FULL member benefits and I expect to get them.
I know a large part of the problem is non members getting information, but while you are busy worrying about non members, you are forgetting to inform the members! The largest part of dues paying members are those that do not make it to meetings and conventions.. Dont you think an informed craft makes a better craft?
Of course I expect the NRLCA to object to non members getting information. Their objections dont phase me much, but I do expect it. Their objections dont phase me because they are unrealistic. Of course I understand the argument. I wish everyone would join the union, but, there is nothing that says they have to, and that is reality of it. And to think that if Ruralinfo.net were not here that information would not be shared, is at the very least, backward thinking.
One could go to Google right now and download all kinds of rural carrier documents, MOUs, Step 4′s, etc. on plenty of non Ruralinfo links. The information WILL be shared. There is NO WAY to stop it. We live in the INTERNET age where information travels in a split second. We no longer have to wait for a phone call or face to face meeting. We want information and it is there before we can blink our eyes.
Just because Ruralinfo.net got some information that was “only” meant for those at the conventions, should not be the big deal it has been made to be. You should be glad that the members are getting the information they pay for. But, continue to berate Ruralinfo.net if you must. It will only send curious carriers to the site. I have been thinking of how I could start a nationwide advertising campaign and now I don’t need to. You are doing it for me.
So United we Stand? Not quite… If we could break through this culture of secrecy, then we might have a chance. Until then, I will try to find and present any information I come across to anyone that wants and needs the information. And not to sound cliche, but KNOWLEDGE really is power!
And just a quick note to the NRLCA… This website is not your enemy. We have similar goals. We both want what is best for rural carriers. I have never advocated decertification nor withdrawing from the union. I am not your enemy. I have never been and never will be anti union. I am very pro union but most of all I am PRO information. I will help you get information out to the masses if you are willing to share it. We can coexist together, but I answer to no one but myself . I will never disclose who sends me information nor will I cower to pressure or union politics. I am a union member who wants and craves information just like thousands of other union members. You are my union and I respect you as such, but I will always strive to make you more transparent and informative. It does not mean I am advocating against you. It means I am the loyal opposition!!!
An uninformed membership can do no good. … Only with information can we contribute and improve our union. Ignorance really is not bliss. The more secrecy we have within our union, the less accountability.