Sunday, February 8, 2009

A lot of smoke, but not much fire....

Late last week, a controversy involving NB Power erupted in the media. It turns out that during the previous week, some of the senior executive drafted a letter in support of David Hay. Their letter also contained descriptions of the highlights that have occurred at NB Power while he's been CEO.

The problem began when they also asked workers to sign the letter. When members of the media, and some politicians learned of this, they suggested that workers must have been intimidated and coerced into signing the letter.

Frankly, all of this caught me by surprise, because except for one member who called Assistant Business Manager Gary Munn to let us know there was some kind of letter going around in support of Mr. Hay (and the member who called didn’t seem upset by it), no one had called or e-mailed me or the union office with any complaints.

As unlikely as I thought it was, I was still deeply concerned and upset by the suggestion that our IBEW members might have been coerced or threatened for any reason, so I investigated further by speaking directly to a number of Local 37 Executive Board members and shop stewards to ask what happened, and to find out if they had received any complaints from members. I also spoke to all of the IBEW Local 37 staff to make 100% sure about whether or not we had received any calls or e-mails about this (we didn’t).

The bottom line is none of those E-Board members or stewards felt any threats or coercion took place. None of them thought there was anything particularly note worthy or unusual about it at the time – interestingly, two people told me the same thing - that it was no different than passing around a birthday card for signatures.

In fact, when I contacted one Steward and told him I was calling because the media was reporting that workers were intimidated, and I wanted to know what had happened in his location, he said, and I quote: “That’s BS! I signed the letter myself – It seemed like they were just trying to give the guy a boost because he’s been getting hammered lately – I think he’s doing a good job. There was no pressure to sign it, some did and some didn’t. It was no big deal.”

So, the long and short of it is, I haven’t been able to find any examples of members who felt they were intimidated or coerced.

But although it doesn’t look like there was an issue last week, I do want everyone reading this to know one thing – if there ever is a case of where you feel intimidation, or if you ever feel threatened, or uncomfortable about something, I want you to know that you should talk to your shop steward, or call our union office, or me, right away. We will always stand up for our members rights, and help them resolve issues.

You can count on that.

No comments: