“Employees covered by this Agreement shall not perform work on a piecework basis.” Commercial Area Agreement for Cook, Lake and DuPage counties. 2010 – 2014
This leaves open for interpretation the idea of a “quota”, a requirement of how much must be done in a given amount of time. For example, having to hang 20 sheets of drywall or run 70 feet of base. It also begs the question of the circumstances: 20 sheets with only a few cutouts or 20 sheets with lots of cutouts, corners, dropping ceiling etc. Or 70 feet of base with 2 miters and no scribes or 70 feet of base with lots of miters and scribed to tile floor.
“Any member accused and found guilty of excessive work and/or rushing on the job shall be fined not less than Fifty ($50.00) Dollars.”
“Any member so accused and found guilty of driving or rushing men under his supervision, or who uses abusive language in directing the work shall be fined not less than Fifty (50.00) Dollars.”
From “By-Laws and Working Rules” Chicago and Northeast Illinois District Council of Carpenters, March 5,1998.
Things were different then. What would a Steward do now? Or a business agent?
“Unceasing, steady and intelligent agitation is the life blood of the labor movement. Agitation provokes discussion and discussion results in enlightenment and education.” Peter J. McGuire August 4, 1890.
Let’s begin to discuss ideas for a new contract.
1. Clear language on use of personal power tools. Portable power tools such as screwguns, lasers, should stay at home.
2.Clear language about start times and premium pay. How many of us really start at 8 a.m.
3.Labor day off with pay.
4. No more give backs, on the check or in terms of benefit cuts.
What do you think? What would you want in a contract?
We are rank and file carpenters who want to begin a conversation with other carpenters and building tradespeople about how we all can build militant, fighting unions when all working people are under attack. We think workers of the 99% have to take back our unions by ending the corporate model unionism. WE need to reshape or unions from the bottom up so they reflect the issues we face every day on the job and at home.
There are many issues. Job speed ups are one. How to interpret vague or “gray” language in our contract. What is piecework? How does the contract outlaw it? What is an early start and what is the premium pay rate for 5 a.m. starts. Is bullying allowed on the job?
Now, more than ever, the rank and file is called upon to enforce their contract. How can we do this when everyone is worried about losing their job. In the 1930′s our brothers and sisters faced very hard times and came up with creative solutions like sit down strikes, work to rule tactics, or rolling strikes. Let’s look at our situations and come up with ideas for fighting back.
Of equal importance is finding ways to increase democracy within our union. We have to reverse the two decade movement of power and decision making to the top. How can rank and file union members have a real voice in our contract negotiations so the substance of contracts that define our working day and so much of our lives reflect our needs and desires.
Join the conversation online and then in person. Remember we are all brothers and sisters. Let’s learn from each other. Keep the dialog civil and respectful.