2.15.2015

the fight for democracy and independence, microcosm version, or, where i've been and what i've been doing while i haven't been blogging

It's always strange for me when the events that are consuming my time and my brain are not suitable for public consumption, not things I can blog about in any detail.

Some of our war-resister friends have left Canada, forced out by the Harper Government, but choosing to go quietly for reasons of their own. Others US war resisters are still fighting to stay in Canada. It's been a very dark time for the Campaign, and very strange for me to be only marginally involved, if at all.

In December I was elected the head of our library workers' union, which is one unit of a composite local. The local comprises 16 units, and our unit is separating to form our own local. We're the second-largest unit in the local, and they're not too keen on losing the revenue from our dues. Accordingly, they're doing everything in their power to try to stop us... which is only making us stronger and more determined to separate.

Ultimately, of course, it's up to our members. We've held a series of meetings where members can hear the pros and cons of belonging to a composite local versus becoming our own local. (It's more accurate to say returning to being a separate local: that was the case until a merger in 2001.)

These meetings have gone strongly in our favour, and in response the local has resorted to lies, scaremongering, and subterfuge, creatively interpreting obscure bylaws to try to invalidate our process. With six meetings down and one to go, they're pulling out all the stops. The vote is on February 26, and they are now prevailing on the national body to make it more difficult for us to hold the vote.

I know full well that we'll get there, but how much crap I'll have to go through until we do is anybody's guess.

There have been some scary and stressful moments, as I figure out how to parry their latest move. It feels like a test of leadership, too. I gather input from a team, but ultimately the decisions rest with me. I feel the weight of the responsibility, but also an exhilaration. I've been getting incredible positive feedback and support from members, which is like oxygen. Or caffeine. Or some other great drug.

I imagine myself navigating a ship through rocky waters, bound for safe harbour. Maybe if I played videogames I'd have a more current analogy!

I just need to get through these last few minefields. Then I hope to make an exciting announcement here on February 26.

6 comments:

Stephanie said...

Laura,

from the sounds of it, you are doing everything right! You've gotten the attention of those who would gain the most from the status quo. Keep up the great work!

Here's to your really exciting announcement on Feb. 26th (the ultimate sustenance).


James Redekop said...

Just out of curiousity, what's the impetus behind leaving the composite local? Too much inertia in the large organization?

laura k said...

Thanks, Stephanie! :)

James, I guess I should have included some of that... but I'm more comfortable if we leave it in comments.

Inertia is a good way to put it. Also mismanagement. A slow, clunky, indirect governance which restricts and hinders us - but gives us little or no benefit.

We want more direct representation, more control over our own finances, control over our own grievances. More autonomy and self-determination.

There has also been mismanagement of funds, and a complete lack of budget transparency.

John F said...

I've had conservative friends point to stuff like this as an example of why unions are irredeemably predatory, corrupt, etc., etc.

I always respond that unions are organizations. Any organization can be run well or poorly. Any system can be gamed.

I usually finish with the point that counterfeiting is not an argument for the elimination of all currency.

Kristina H said...

I so appreciate all the work you're doing on behalf of the membership Laura!

laura k said...

I always respond that unions are organizations. Any organization can be run well or poorly. Any system can be gamed.

I say the same.

I usually finish with the point that counterfeiting is not an argument for the elimination of all currency.

Nice!!

I usually say that the latest corporate corruption scandal - Enron, AIG, Madoff, whatever - is rarely used as an excuse to eliminate capitalism.