As many of you may already know, we are currently in a one year extension of our current contract and thus, in the last year of that contract. The events of the last 14 months or so have been very indicative of the current state of the economy and the company and just as indicative of the state of our current contract.
We expect the next contract negotiation to be at least as challenging as the last was. You should expect the company to strongly address those areas it feels it needs concessions in. Likewise each member should seriously reflect on the events of the last four years and attempt to assess where they would need our next contract to go to best protect our jobs, our families and the benefits we have struggled so hard to hold on to.
We have had discussions with members and groups of members over the last few years and these concerns have come up over and over again. In the interest of this process we are going to attempt a slightly different approach to member involvement in developing our negotiating positions.
In past years the members were asked to respond to a questionnaire in which they expressed what they hoped to achieve in the upcoming negotiations. While this is an excellent idea, we feel it came far too late in the process, far too close to the beginning of negotiations.
We want to open that process much earlier, like right now. We invite direct involvement of the members in establishing these positions.
Over the next few weeks we will begin to introduce areas the members have expressed interest in improving in the next contract. Hopefully, we can start to collect ideas from members now. We will communicate these ideas as much as possible and attempt to start a dialogue so our positions may as clearly as possible reflect the feeling s of as large a cross-section of members as possible. Please understand that the company also reads our website, so what actually gets put there will be reflective of that consideration. For the most part, more sensitive issues will be discussed at union meetings. We began this process somewhat informally at the last meeting and there was immediately a good exchange of ideas.
Expect to see areas of concern begin to be explored over the next few weeks. And, of course, if there is an area we are not touching, please speak up. If you think an idea is too crazy to put out there, you ought to see what they come up with. It’d give you a headache.
We promise you that only ideas will be put out there. If you wish confidentiality, you got it. We look forward to hearing from you.