I got lots of jobs to low wages. Warehouseman, employed in call centers or customer service, concierge, diver, clerk, assistant cook, seller fir, House painter, speaker, name it. In all cases, I always had bosses with varying degrees of shit.
One who we
called moumounes when we refused to work at 10
meters in height without harness; another who always said
that it was taking too long between two surveys; one who we
spied remotely via cameras; others
who harassed or tolerated harassment.
union experience has been with
the Teamsters, at the Montreal Bus Station
as an attendant
to information. We were a new
about 10 people hired by a
outsourcing company. A summer job that
finally lasted six years, at 40 hours / week at minimum wage with executives too
As long as having a boss, as much to defend oneself, this is
which is why I later joined the IWW, a Wobblie.
But initially, I was not a convinced trade unionist.
This first experience with the Teamsters has me
even rather disgusted with unions.
By entering, I
knew my hourly rate, but not much more. Nobody said anything to us. This is
our boss, One day, who told us we would be unionized
with the Teamsters. It's funny, because I
don't remember ever signing a membership card. AT
the time, I have
even suspicious that it is our boss who finds us a union; now
I understand that we were fooled, big time.
Un an (or two)
later, a colleague, no longer lit at
his rights, and I started
to chat . Sometimes with other colleagues.
Our working conditions were really harsh. We wanted more than the
minimum wage, at least 3-4$ Furthermore. Especially since half of the staff had been there since
more than 10 years. Many had children. We knew that if we
structured, we could go get some money. And
if we had a copy of our
collective agreement. I was not even sure
what it was. We went around, no one had it. To my memory, our boss gave us a copy.
having leafed through our convention, we understood that
had to elect delegates
and that many of our working conditions were not
respected. We contacted
Teamsters offices, so that we
explains a little how it all works. We were given the number of our union advisor,
the one who had to answer our
Questions, help us to
organize and defend
our rights. Joining him was painstaking.
He was very busy he said.
We were obviously not on his priority list.
It looked like a whole union
crooked. Not too interested in
we. To send us a paid guy 3-4 times our salary, that got us
made very unfriendly.
We contacted the CSN, see if we could not embark with them. It
couldn't be worse and maybe the idea
losing our dues would wake up the Teamsters. It was
very complicated for I don't know what to have
a frank response from the CSN. We were however
in time for the change of accreditation. After
some exchanges, it fell to
the water. A young
friendly adviser tells us that the plant was not very
interested, among other things because
would not pay much in contributions.
this episode, our negotiations arriving, even
if we didn't feel supported, we tried to organize
meetings by ourselves. We had to get organized
and obviously nobody would do it for us. We had to talk to our colleagues and ask questions : who
stands with who? Who wants what? Who is potentially trusted, who
would vote for leverage, for a strike? It
was messy. What now
at the IWW I call from
"Restlessness, education, of inoculation, you
social mapping, etc. "
We put up posters to announce an assembly. We spent
small leaflets. I was really funny to put on
posters with quotes from Karl Marx. Mon boss, his, laughed less. We
didn't have the right to talk about a union at work. Of
their edge by cons, our bosses pretended to meet
individual about the schedule for
threaten colleagues, know who said what ...
oldest used to obtain information,
to spread rumors that the company is closing and that
lose our jobs if we go on strike.
union presslessly returned our calls and was rarely,
never there. At our first meeting, during
which we refused
the boss offer,
our counselor spoke aggressively, repeated the same
rumors that executives were circulating, said we should
accept the 50 proposed increase signs or go out with the right pegs.
We stopped trusting him the day we
saw him by chance in a restaurant not
away eating with our boss, looks like two good
boyfriends. I was in tabarnak.
During the second
Assembly, the boss’s offer made us climb by
1,50$ (about) /h. The more combative small group
that we were
tried to push for more, but the assembly
voted in favor. Our advisor
says that in 3 years, we might be better ... this same
guy who had more in common with our boss treated us like kids,
idiots. It made me hate
Gang of sold me
said to myself. The power plants and their platform managers
employees, more concerned insurance companies
by industrial peace that the working and living conditions of my class.
rediscovered unionism in a better light
meeting Wobblies. When I was told that a
real union, it is the workers who train it and who
give it its colors. That the legal model of
insurance company, it’s a resounding failure.
That it is certainly not by accepting the status quo that we will avoid the wall towards which the
capitalism makes us sink.
From my first
experience with a corporatist union, I’m
remember this : must speak to
our colleagues; ask them
what they do and how to get more, know what
pisses them off, remind them that a boss is a boss, even
if he has a smile; understand that it will not be
simple, that our colleagues (and ourselves), waves
Still unionized with the IWW, but also by a “legal” union, I keep in mind that we have to protect ourselves from the boss, but often also from the heavily paid union, who's afraid of losing control. Especially if we don't want to be content to sign an agreement, but put the power back on the work floor.
The 2 May, a day of reflection on the working conditions in the Community was organized by organisms at the bottom of the ladder, the popular Training Center and the sectoral grouping of community organizations in Montreal (RIOCM).
We were three members of the Community Committee of the IWW Montreal to attend. It was an interesting day and well organized. There was material to brainstorm ideas with more than a hundred people. Congratulations to the transition to the organization. Several proposals have been put forward; we will mention some, explaining the pros and cons, and issuing certain criticisms we hope constructive.
Three workshops framed discussions : labor conditions, the work-life and the workplace. The issues raised were mainly lack of funding (mostly), overwork, les burnouts, the large staff turnover, martyr culture, the few links of e-s-employee with their board, sexism in the workplace, la bureaucratisation, project funding (and thus insecurity), etc.
Those are, in sum, problems that most of us who work in the community and have already seen weighing on our shoulders every day.
Before moving forward, an aside is necessary to explain the context of discussions. We said, a hundred people were present. However the majority of these people were either in leadership positions, coordination with a power of hiring and dismissal or board member of directors. That is to say that we were talking about our working conditions with boss. Bosses obviously conscious of their employee-e-s (and suffer themselves and themselves some of the issues discussed), but the boss still. And the discussions were tinted.
Also, to be clear : reflections and critical that we bring here are ours, those unionists.
Calling versus employment
Several people mentioned : there is a culture of martyrdom in community organizations. That of not including overtime, to accept the often precarious conditions, And this, just because our work is a care. We work with the world of precarious and often messed up, our work is essential. Somewhat the same speech that is served to nurses and called women's jobs. A random? Probably not. It is often also said that the EU is a work '' militant ''. The boundary between work and activism is not always clear. It is common to see people overwork at work on this basis, that '' because '' is worth a couple of unpaid overtime!
Interesting proposals have emerged. Deconstructing this speech first. Explain the nature of our jobs, to denounce these situations overwork, just as the health care workers have for months with strength, either via public texts or videos. Refusing to do more (with less means).
An expression is however emerged repeatedly from the mouth of managers or directors of organizations, is the need to "educate their employee-s in overtime". Manner of providing the fault of overtime on the shoulders of the employee-s, but neither on directions or the structure of organizations, and even less on donors. If employers accept imposed performance requirements donors, knowing we often "low staff", it is inconsistent to require e-s-employee to provide the same services, but in less time.
Funding, bureaucracy and paperwork
Sure, the main issue remains : under-funding and project funding. Some people have raised the possibility of pressuring the political parties in the context of election campaigns. Trying again to strike the Community, perhaps with clearer objectives and decentralized than the aborted 7 February. And look more broadly and talk more. But above all to mobilize the very foundations of organizations : either the employee-e-s!
[On this subject, a personal story and a parallel with the Retreat : nowadays, very little employee-s organizations with a health mandate and social services (Such prevention of STIs) I talk to had heard of this missed strike 7 February. As few of my colleagues intervention had heard of this day of reflection on our working conditions. Visibly, if these are the coordos directions or who receive an invitation to talk about workplace conditions, there is little chance of that is transmitted to the employee-s. Imagine then speak to strike ...]
In terms of insecurity issues related to project funding rather than mission, few solutions have been put forward, Furthermore to make a strike Claim. We have mentioned a few times to tackle some private donors such as the United, who actively participate in the entrepreneurial culture, but no one picked up the ball, which in itself speaks volumes about the lack of analysis we have our own "industry" working.
Be heard as workers
An announcement was made, namely that a national association and workers Community workers would be created in the coming months. Few details were unveiled. As the creation of meeting has not taken place, it is difficult to say what its mandate, but we suspect that this will be our rights, to demand better funding, etc.
By asking a few questions in the following weeks to people involved in its creation, we have some, or concerns, but the project still interests us.
Already, have a space where propose actions, where share and talk about our working conditions is interesting in itself. Can come together is almost a luxury, considering all the tasks and we weigh. This will definitely be a project in which it may organize actions on trades that we.
However, some concerns remain. First, that will be part? Will be qualified-e-s Workers people who have hiring and dismissal powers within our bodies? Suppose we begin to talk about organizing, are we going to face an internal group that fiercely oppose it? Or simply to speak of self-management, internal conflicts, power relations within our bodies ... Will speak are we working conditions or just general underfunding? The question is valid.
Trade union solidarity and self-management
Sure, we preached for several solutions like us. Against some reluctance to join unions under a traditional model, we talked about putting forward a solidarity unionism. Namely mobilize, We base, by and for ourselves, so not only talk about underfunding, but also to bring up to date the self in community organizations in which we work. But also to be able to address issues such as harassment, the employee-s reports versus directions / boards, etc. This is why our trade unionism is voluntary, to enable people to be heard according to their needs.
We mentioned the importance of not remain impassive when an organization is cut. And I believe that this goal remains for us one of our key mandates : asserting solidarity among people working in the Community. Because it is together that we have a balance of power and that we can protect our bodies.
in short, it was an interesting meeting. We hope it will not be an isolated exercise, and it will be followed by a more general and broader. Organizations that have started organized something important, we hope it continues and that it be given suites.
The meeting was after all the Community Image : we are well aware of the problems we are experiencing, we have a good idea of the solutions within our reach, but taking action is unclear, or uncertain.
Anyway, our side, we will provide all the help we can in our midst colleagues, and we invite them to contact us. The more we are many and many, more our voice will.
An injury to one, an injury to all!
Members of the union workers and community workers.