This is an open letter to all members of IBEW 1245, and to members of all unions in general.
I’m not that active in the union, but I do attend my local union meeting pretty regularly. I go to learn what’s going on with my own workgroup (clerical) and everyone else working for PG&E. As they say, an injury to one is an injury to all.
At the last union meeting, I was asked if I wanted to attend a contract negotiating meeting and represent my workgroup. I said okay and really didn’t expect to be called. A couple of weeks later, I was invited to attend.
I arrived at the union hall and found other clerical members from various departments from around the system in attendance. We all had concerns and questions, not only about the contract, but issues happening to us in our own locations. We were able to go over the current Company proposal and either agree, disagree or find some middle ground to counter with. When we finally met with the Company representatives, we listened, discussed and adjourned to analyze it again. It is a slow process. But as members and workers, we have a voice in the decision making process. We are involved in it.
To cut to point, it is true democracy. Our individual participation as members counts. We had a voice because we volunteered. The union stewards not only work for us, but they came up from our ranks, so they know the work and conditions.
Sometimes I hear members saying something negative about the union, and I have to ask if they’ve been to a local union meeting lately? I know it may seem like a slow process, but if you don’t participate in the one organization that really does have an impact on your livelihood, whose responsibility is it? It’s not just about paying dues, it’s your being there that really counts.
Greg Kestel is a 16-year member of IBEW 1245.