Operating Engineers Local Union No. 3
Management, labor join forces in
Helm, business representative
Director Rick Ruiz and Human Relations Liaison Denise Fetty for Alameda County
and the union had several meetings regarding problems with inter-departmental
communications, daily operations, documentation of discipline and procedural
issues during a series of joint labor management committee meetings. Nothing
was unusual; problems were noted, problems were discussed and problems
continued. Then something extraordinary happened. Management decided to deal
with the problem.
scheduled a training class for crew leaders, field supervisors, Human Resource
personnel and other department managers. An outside consultant was scheduled to
conduct the class regarding team building, effective communication, the chain
of command, progressive discipline, proper documentation and fairness. On the
surface, nothing seemed unusual about the subject matter or the composition of
the group. But there was one notable exception: Operating Engineers Local 3 was
invited to attend and was encouraged to participate. Imagine, management and
the union, working together to resolve issues constructively.
And so the
fateful day came. I was more than a little suspicious. I figured I'd be sitting
there listening to some guy lecture. I'd fight to stay awake until lunch, and
after lunch I'd lose the fight and someone would elbow me in the afternoon to
tell me it was time to go home.
walked "Arky" the consultant, who had more than 20 years of experience working
with state, federal and local governments, businesses, domestic and
international corporations and high-dollar entrepreneurs seeking to foster a
positive team environment for highly effective organizations. Highly effective
organization and governmentdon't these terms seem mutually exclusive or
an example of an oxymoron?
several frank discussions regarding past and continuing problems, and the group
began processing the information and working to resolve issues that effect
everyone, including management and labor. The class included exercises to
strengthen communication skills, team building, commitment and
class continued, progressive discipline was defined and specific procedures
were outlined to ensure fairness, with strangely enough, input from the union
that was actually adopted. Several new forms were discussed and are being put
together, and a follow-up meeting has been scheduled for further discussion and
follow through. (Arky is big on follow through.)
the fact that this entire episode occurred, an even stranger thing happened.
The management folk and union members came together, seemingly as strangers,
though most everyone in the room had been working together for years, and they
left feeling like they were part of a team and could make a difference. With a
little luck, some hard work and continued effort, there is a good chance that
significant, positive changes will occur.
Arky did a
good job; I guess that's why he gets paid the big bucks. But the fact that he
was scheduled is an example of management and the union coming together to make
things better for our members and the people we work for, the citizens who pay