ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

August 1, 2007

2007.08.01: Re: Why not put the contract online

From: Michael Letwin
Sent: Wednesday, August 01, 2007 12:07 PM
To: Susan Morris; DALE Wilker; Joshua Goldfein
Cc: ALAA MEMBERS; James Bernal
Subject: Re: Why not put the contract online

For thirty years prior to the current leadership, ALAA always sought (and usually drafted) unified written contracts, the most recent of which (2000-2002) is attached.  Lags of a year or two, at most, were due not to the union’s lack of interest, but to management’s delay in agreeing to final language.

In sharp contrast, ALAA members have now been without a new written contract for seven years.  As a result, it is virtually impossible to enforce our contract rights or fully appreciate the scope of union give-backs since 2003.

This reflects the current leadership’s broader refusal to provide members with full, timely, factual written reports about union business.  Thus, union members no longer receive:

*Detailed bargaining reports.

*Memoranda of agreement between ALAA’s bargaining committee and management — prior to contract ratification.

*Regular newsletters.

*Annual external audits of union finances.

When questioned, the leadership claims that this lack of disclosure is necessary to keep information from management. But members are often kept in the dark about management’s own decisions (e.g., current censorship and threats to close to ALAA e-mail list), or about the status of grievances.  In other words, management already knows — but the members don’t.

Moreover, neither leadership accountability nor meaningful membership debate and mobilization is possible without the fullest possible dissemination of information.  While oral communication is certainly important, written reports are the glue that ensures that all members — whether or not they attend meetings — are provided with the information to which they are entitled. And written information cannot be as easily fudged.

Not surprisingly, the failure to provide written contracts and other important information has been accompanied by serious erosion of ALAA’s internal democracy and bargaining leverage.

It is part of the leadership’s job to provide clear, competent, timely and detailed written information. It is the membership’s job to hold leaders to that obligation.

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