Your Voice, Your Choice
OPEIU Local 39
May 2017
How convenient are those, really?

We all use them: ATMs, self-checkout at the grocery, maybe even the ordering kiosks at a fast food joint. But have you ever thought about the true cost of using those machines? Machines can work 24/7, making them more convenient for us (and management) but what do they mean for the changing nature of work? More on that below.

Be sure to attend the Spring Membership Meeting later this week! Head over to our Facebook page and let us know if you're going. I hope to see you there.

The Changing Nature of Work
Can we redefine "worker" even as our work is redefined?

Lately, it seems like everyone is talking about the "job killing" effects of automation. There really is little doubt that the nature of work and the types of jobs generally available will continue to change. It's been happening since the advent of the Industrial age.

We know it will happen because it has been happening, all of our lives. We've been using ATMs since the 1960s and grocery store self-checkout since the 1980s, so the idea that these will soon replace humans in fast food isn't really surprising.

Workers have seen automation as a threat for centuries, since before the Luddites faced the loss of their livelihood to the early mechanical automated looms. The automation possible today with highly adaptive, computerized devices means that more than grocery store clerks are at risk of having their work taken over by a computer. A study referenced in an article in the Economist found that some "47% of workers in America had jobs at high risk of potential automation." That's huge, especially added to the 5 million jobs lost since 2000 to automation.  

But it is important to remember that the nature of work has been changing since the industrial revolution (all of our lives, in other words) as has the Silicone revolution been changing since the 1980s. The Luddites thought the answer to the lost jobs was to destroy the mechanized looms. That's not a viable solution in 21st century America. But Unions way me.

Unions can help make the transition easier. Current contracts can be negotiated to include worker re-training and generous severance packages. But even more,  Unions and workers -- in short, the labor movement -- can make a huge difference by adapting to a changing work force and changing nature of work.

If more of the routine work is done by machine, then the focus of Unions should be on those jobs that aren't routine that can only be done by humans. If it takes fewer hours to build or produce or manufacture whatever the "product" is, then workers should demand shorter work weeks, giving us all more time to enjoy the things we're working to support. That, after all, was the early promise of automation.

In short, Unions are our best chance to ensure that not all of the profits of automation go into the hands of the corporations, CEOs, and shareholders. Unions must play a role in redefining worker even as machines redefine work.

Just like other charts showing productivity and worker wages, this chart is another example of the ability of the American worker to be highly productive even as we do NOT see hours coming down or wages going up. We see all of the efforts of workers going to everyone but the workers themselves.

Held at the Union Office

This is the IBEW Union Building: 701 Watson Ave, Madison WI 53713

We meet in the conference room one floor up from our Local's offices.

PS - Membership Meeting THIS Week
The Union succeeds through everyone's efforts. Please join us this Wednesday, May 17th at 5:30 PM.

  • Unit Updates
  • Financial Updates
  • Update on Merger with Local 95

Other News from Around the Union
Our Union Offices in the IBEW building
What's New with You?

After a hectic end of winter, things have quieted down for the moment at the Union office. We have upcoming contract negotiations for NCSRCC – Carpenters and Domtar in the next couple of months but, for the moment, we have time to consider what comes next.

What's new with you? Come over to the Facebook page and tell us about your summer plans!

Membership meetings are held the third Wednesday of the second month of the quarter, at 5:30 PM in the Union Office.

May 17th, 2017
August 16th, 2017
November 15, 2017
February 21st, 2018

This is your Union. Your participation gives us the strength to face the continued opposition of both companies and politicians.
Unions = Gym Membership
Know Your Weingarten Rights!
The US Supreme Court has ruled that the National Labor Relations Act gives workers the right to request union representation during investigatory interviews by supervisors, security personal, and other managerial staff.  These are called Weingarten Rights.
An investigatory interview occurs if 1) management questions you to obtain information; and 2) you have reasonable apprehension that your answers could be used as a basis for discipline or other adverse action.
You must ask for union representation either before or during an investigatory interview.  Management does not have to remind you of this right.  If your request is refused and Management continues asking questions, you may refuse to answer.  Your employer is guilty of an unfair labor practice and charges may be filed.  If you are questioned in a situation where Weingarten may apply, read or present this statement:

"If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions, I respectfully request that my union representative, officer, or steward be present at this meeting. Until my representative arrives, I choose not to participate in this discussion."
Local 39 Union Offices
701 Watson Ave
Ste 102
Madison WI 53713
Smart ATM Photo credit: mikecogh  via photopin license