What is the proper role of organizers?

This is a question rather than an answer. The reason I ask it is that I have observed staff going beyond what I think their proper role should be. Staff makes no secret that they support certain candidates for office at the local and state levels. Is this proper? My guess is no. Staff regularly influence committee appointments, and according to a friend on the staff screening committee, staff coach candidates they want to pass and sometimes even accompany them to their interviews. Yes, according to my friend, staff have actually sat through the interviews with candidates they like. Of course this puts great pressure upon the committee members to throw easy pitches in the interview and pass that candidate, and makes a mockery of even having a staff screening committee. If there is anyone on that committee reading this that can confirm or deny this statement, please reply.
Perhaps even a greater problem is that certain staff will also torpedo candidates they don't like. Why don't they like them? Well...... sometimes their reasons are pretty questionable. Members may not be quite as politically correct all the time, and don't always respond to every situation with professional polish, but they are still the heart and soul of the union. Every stinking penny we have comes from their labor, and staff ought to bear that in mind at all times. Our union may be slipping away from the membership. This "bottom up" philosophy has been looking a lot like tokenism lately. All show and no go. When there is any effort to divine the will of the membership, staff often work in various ways to insure the desired outcome. I'm sorry, but that must be called by its right name. A sham.
It would be interesting to research how many resolutions for general counsel that staff did not support died in committee, morphed into an unrecognizable form, didn't make it to the floor or otherwise didn't withstand a vote. Now some of those undoubtedly did not pass for good reasons. But my guess is that if you were to review the general council proposals over the years sorting by staff support, you would find that there is a steady decline of successful resolutions without staff endorsement. Not a good sign if you are trying to run a bottom up organization.
Finally, there is a perception in 503 that staff who keep their memberships active can still work to influence elections as long as they do not do that during working hours. Well, what exactly are a staff persons working hours? They are specifically called to work evenings and weekends and during the day the rest of the time. If your organizer calls you and asks you to support a certain candidate, resolution,etc., are you checking your watch and deciding if they are acting in official capacity or not? Of course not. If they were to declare it not official would you not think of it as being official? Of course you wouldn't. We do not make such distinctions. Should staff be allowed to advocate for some position the members must decide upon? I think no. What do you think?
Some staff direct the membership out of ego, some out of expediency. Some just want to do whatever they have to so that their job will be easier.
Let me close by saying that most of our organizers are wonderful committed people, and none of them are evil beasts. I believe the members often transfer our authority as members over to them, and that is a horrible mistake. Our best organizers will be the first to say so as well. They can't force us to take back the reigns of our union. We have to pick them up and yell "giddyup!"
I know there are not many members on this site yet. I hope "if we write it they will come." If you are reading this, please take the time to give an honest comment. As I understand the web master here, this is a site for the members to express and discuss their views and concerns without any hint of derision or retaliation. Democracy can happen right here with just a few of us. Perhaps it will grow from there!

0
Scott's picture

Re: What is the proper role of organizers?

John,

I've had this very discussion in the past. It's disturbing how much SEIU 503 seems to be run under the same "rules" as the employers we have to defend against every day. Even when it's not a Union (read "contractual") issue, there are just so many ways that our employers do things wrong. Intentionally so. Then to hear about it happening at 503. Sorry, I think I just had a little baby-barf in my mouth. Yuck!

You also raise an interesting question about the General Council resolutions. I don't have a total answer for that. Perhaps what we'll find is that if it doesn't have the support of the most senior staff, it doesn't go through. In fact, it's rather difficult to get anything to GC in general terms.

Your points about when organizers, and other staff, are on-the-clock are well taken. The more I've been thinking about this, the more it seems that our C&Bs need a major revision with regards to this. Exactly why are staff allowed to even be members? I can't be a member of PERU. If they can't be members, they can't have a vested interest in changing things. And if they do, it will be obvious that it is not part of their jobs. And makes it inappropriate.

I have agreed in the past that not everyone seems to be doing this. I've also gotten different stories from staff and management at the 503 about how they are rated on things. This could include the internal political activism. Of course I've also written about the evil beast(s) previously.

And finally, I have to agree that I hope the membership on this site grows. What doesn't show is the increasing numbers of visitors to the site. I know they aren't posting, but they are reading, even if it's anonymously.

__________________

Scott
—————
"An intractable problem can only be resolved by stepping beyond conventional solutions." — Ozymandias

Re: What is the proper role of organizers?

I agree that staff have way too much influence - day to day and at General Council. I think their role is guidance and perspective. But they cross the line all the time. Remember - they are organizers. They are good at getting you to say you agree or don't agree with something without you realizing they influenced your decision. We have to keep asking questions and be cautious about jumping on board until we are sure we have all the facts and information. We need to make decisions and do the right thing for our members. Not the expedient thing for 503 or SEIU.

Re: What is the proper role of organizers?

Yes, the same techniques we use to move issues are used against us by a few staff with their own agendas. It's true. I might just as well say it plainly.
There are a few staff, and one key staff in particular, who manipulate situations to place blame far from where it belongs and to make themselves look good for things they had no involvement in. This one staff has even sacrificed the health of a local to try to win an apparently one sided war against a leader they don't like. That action I find unforgivable.

Scott's picture

Re: What is the proper role of organizers?

As I mentioned in my first comment, it's time for some major rewriting of the current C&Bs. I encourage our anonymous posters to join in, as well as everyone else reading this. I'll be posting updates over in the C&Bs forum. I hope to see you there.

__________________

Scott
—————
"An intractable problem can only be resolved by stepping beyond conventional solutions." — Ozymandias

Post new comment

By posting content to EyeOnThe503.com, you agree to be bound by the Terms of Service. This includes the use of Mollom's web service to monitor submissions for content, which is governed by Mollom's Privacy Policy.

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Avast! This website be taken over by pirates on September 19th. Yarr!

More information about formatting options