Why Unions Are Shy To Accept a Bullying Case From Its Members

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    This is a great issue that represented Targets have, especially in a rapid ‘toxic environment’ where management condones Bullying in the Workplace as a means of management like CalHR does in State Service, which I was in for 20 years. There are many reasons for this, which I will outline in this article.
    The first reason for this, is that unions like the grievance process for contract(Collective Bargaining Agreement) related issue. However, the grievance process is purely a paper shuffling process. In addition, under this process limits the Target’s legal options due to the fact that the courts consider this an adjudication process. Also this process rarely is in the Target’s favor as well, From the Target’s point of view, most of the events that they faced, typically, are outside of the Collective Bargaining Agreement .

    The second reason is that either the Union’s staff and/or their Stewards are not properly trained in how to handle these types of cases of their members.  Additionally, based upon this fact, the union’s President also does not understand this issue of how this lack of proper training affects  the union’s membership by selectively not handling all of their workplace issues as prescribed by the members’ understanding of the advantage of being a union member.

    The third reason is that union’s are afraid  of getting a member on member representation issues. This puts the union right in the middle as having to represent both members on the same case. Unions typically do not like to be placed in this position although they are obligated to represent both members which is their obligation under the laws that have given them the representation authority  of their membership.
    The fourth reason, they do not want to go against their members authority of their case once they get the case, to use organizing tools to get management to change their policies that condone this behavior. When I have recommended this strategy to rid my building in which I had nearly 1,000 cases over 14 years that were mostly workplace bullying. These are working conditions issues, which was their obligation to their members. But because targets are shamed under the behaviors of a perpetrator, targets typically want to keep their issues confidential. Organizing could make their cases public, however, when I had the authority of targets, I found this methodology quite effective to solving these cases. However, although I had to act under my authority as a Steward, rarely was the union’s staff thought that this strategy was the right strategy, I had many debates with union’s staff over the usage of these tools. In most of these cases, they wanted me to use the grievance process. Yet only a small part of these cases fell under the Collective Bargaining Agreement of my union.

    A fifth reason, because that the union has a lack of understanding of this issue, the union considers that these cases take up too much of the Stewards time, since they are volunteering their time. In addition, if the Steward takes on these cases, the union would consider that they should be covered as a full time job. The reality is that their member targets need to know that they have support of their issues from this sort of behavior.

    The Ramifications of These Reasons on Their Membership

    There are big ramifications on unions that act under these reasons:

    First, the members feel that the union is not representing their needs and then they question as to why do they need to be a member of the union. After that, these members talk to their co-workers and then these co-workers and it spreads throughout the workplace then it can spread like a virus which can result in lower membership of the union.
    Secondly, there is a big reaction by management is that they feel embolden to feel free to continue this behavior that has been found that will endanger the targets physical and mental health.  Our statistics indicate at least 3/4 of the targets will leave their jobs to avoid their jobs where this behavior being felt. This could result in another position, that may or may not be another position that may be or may not be represented by the same union in the previous position. Again, this reaction by management could lower the union’s membership which would weaken the strength of the union.

    From the members point of view, this issue has grown into the number one issue that unions now face under workplace conditions. Rightfully so, the members are being critical of their unions with this issue. It is observation is that if unions adequately train their Stewards and Staff that they can increase their memberships and be a lot stronger than they are presently. Additionally, this country needs laws that will discourage these behaviors along with better training of unions personnel. Too, unions should include this issue in their Collective Bargain Agreement to reinforce it within the grievance process, They need to also use organizing methods to help solve these cases without doing paper shuffling of the grievance process as a reinforcement of the unions’ strength. Unions have the tools to fight this issue, but they need be boldly acting on this issue  to use the powers that built the unions in the first place.


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    Jeffrey Recht
    Jeffrey Recht
    With a career spanning over five decades, Jeffrey Recht has excelled as a financial analyst, demonstrating exemplary leadership and dedication in various roles across sectors. As the former co-chairperson of California Healthy Workplace Advocates, they championed the cause of ending workplace bullying, facilitating meetings and spearheading advocacy initiatives. Their expertise extends to managing a Financial Analytical Firm, overseeing compliance, and cultivating a stellar client roster. Additionally, they served as CEO of a software programming company and played a pivotal role in modernizing fiscal control applications for the State of California. Jeffrey's advocacy efforts extended to lobbying for policy reforms, showcasing their commitment to workers' rights. Their multifaceted skill set encompasses cash flow analysis, investment analysis, and strategic planning, earning them accolades and recognition throughout their career. Retired now, Jeffrey continues to leverage their expertise to drive positive change in their community, embodying unwavering integrity and strategic foresight.