Do You Want to be More Involved with Your Union? – Blog

If you were to ask almost any ATU 583 Officer or Executive Board Member how they ended up in their position, nearly all of them would say they started small.

No matter what role you choose one thing that is most common is that most people experience some workplace or social event that motivates them to get involved.

Whatever the reason is for you stepping forward we welcome you aboard as an activist!

1. Attending Regular Membership Meetings
Our monthly meetings have been affected by Covid, however in “normal” circumstances these meetings take place on the second Tuesday of each month. Here is where the business of the Local is discussed and voted on. Meetings normally take place at 10 AM and 7:30 PM to ensure Members of different schedules can attend. By attending you are keeping yourself apprised of what is going on in your Local and equally important, you are likely going to be voting to help make decisions. Whether that is a motion to become involved with affiliate opportunities or even on whether to proceed to arbitration on grievances that have already made their way through the three-step grievance process.

During Covid, the Executive Board deals with the business of the Local (per the Constitution and General Laws of the Amalgamated Transit Union). However, we do have video updates and live Q&A sessions on our Facebook that all Members in good standing are welcome to attend.

As Covid becomes contained we look forward to meeting again in person as soon as possible.

2. Social Committee

We’ve discussed the Social Committee on this blog before; and their integral part in making the social functions of ATU Local 583 happen. What we’d like to reiterate here is the importance of this committee. We’ve all seen how Covid has kept us apart. From the inability to meet with family and friends to the cancellation of all social functions of this Local the last year and a half. This remains an extremely important committee and for a member looking to dip their toes into the Local 583 scene, this is a great opportunity.

3. Political Action Committee
There is almost no committee with greater importance, especially right now. Our provincial government is intent on breaking down unions and their gains. Our municipal government has turned its back on us at almost every turn during this pandemic (with a few exceptions). We’ve seen staunch opposal to unionism not only from CT but from the body that directs a lot of what they do – City Council. Our Political Action Committee has been extremely active in getting members interested in and informed on the upcoming civic elections. It is more important now that ever before to have a City Council that believes in public services like transit and the unionized workers that do the jobs therein.

If you’re interested in politics or simply in taking a harder stance on issues like anti-contracting out – this committee is for you.

4. Become Acquainted with Your Collective Agreement

Did you know that we have copies of the Collective Agreement available at the office that Members are welcome to request? Additionally, we have the PDF of the Collective on our website. The website version is handy in many ways, not the least of which is not having to carry a hard copy and yet still having the info at your fingertips. Also, you can utilize ctrl+f to search the document quickly and easily. View it HERE

Becoming informed on the contents of your Collective Agreement allows you to understand the gains your union has made; it also likewise may alert you to spaces that need to be filled. To that end the membership is always involved in the collective bargaining process. We ask for direction from all members in good standing prior to starting bargaining. This comes in the form of a survey where we ask questions based around what working conditions and monetary gains are important to our members. For this round of bargaining this took place in October 2020 and we are currently in negotiations. Like everything else in the last year and a half this normal process has been affected due to Covid 19 restrictions. We have actually targeted September as our first meeting with the employer to begin the negotiations process.

All that to say, being involved in this process is extremely important. The more voices we have, the more observations and opinions, the more accurate the package can be in representing what is best for the members.

5. Engage a Steward

We have said many times that our Stewards are some of our greatest assets as a union. On each union posting board there is (or should be) a Roster that includes the Executive Board, Shop Stewards (who are elected) and Job Stewards (who are appointed). If you have a question or a concern, a Steward can be an excellent resource. Not only that, they are a wealth of knowledge on the current status of many of the goings on of the Local. Anything they don’t know a confirmed answer on, they will find out for you!

If you haven’t chatted with a Steward be sure to say hi next time you see them in the workplace or check out the posting boards or our website HERE and strike up a conversation using their contact information.

You may be surprised to know that some of the most important information we receive is directly from a member or through a Steward that a member has approached!

6. Become a Steward

This leads us to our final suggestion for this post. Becoming a Steward. As a Steward of the Local you would disseminate information from the Officers, bring forward concerns or questions from members (as discussed in #5) and participate in meetings/education specific to growing your skills and knowledge.

You would also be able to represent your fellow members at call ins. Taking vital notes and asking important questions which would then make their way back to the office and be filed for possible use during grievances and the like.

The Executive Board considers anyone with the desire to become a Steward through a very simple and painless interview process (that takes approximately 15 minutes of a member’s time to participate in). If you think this is a route you’d like to take but worry that you don’t have enough experience – put those worries aside. Wanting to assist your fellow members and work with the Board is the most important part of wanting to be a Steward and any amount of experience in that area is acceptable. As mentioned above there are also education opportunities we send Stewards to whenever possible.

If you are interested in any of the committees above or becoming a Steward please email with your name, employee number and which you are interested in.

COPE #397 /jr

Leave a Reply