This is the second of two parts. In Part 1, Eddie examined NTEU’s past under the incumbent’s leadership. Now, Eddie outlines a future for NTEU that takes us in another direction. On Tuesday, August 9, the delegates in Seattle will choose between the two visions of leadership.
Less than one week from now, the delegates of the 53rd National Convention in Seattle will decide the direction of NTEU. Will we continue on our National Office’s current path of diminishing expectations, shrinking membership growth, and rising cynicism—or will the delegates “Vote the Future?”
Here’s what the future will look like if you choose me as your National President.
Chapter Leaders will have a greater voice in the operation of our union. As always, Chapter Presidents will serve on national negotiation teams; the difference is that more Presidents will receive these opportunities—not just a favored few—and their input will be valued and visible in the final agreements. As National President, I will take a firmer approach to negotiations and in NTEU’s relationship to management—and I believe this will more accurately reflect the will and the interests of our Chapters.
The views and concerns of Chapter Leaders will never be far from my thoughts. As has long been requested by many Chapters, I will finally institute a monthly conference call between the National President and Chapter Presidents. I will further encourage and facilitate communication between Chapters, between agencies, and between Field Offices. NTEU will enlist new communications technology as it becomes available and user-friendly.
I will appoint a National Office ombudsman whose sole responsibility will be to assist the National President in following up on issues raised by Chapter Leaders. As I have described on this website, the ombudsman will be the designated holder of the “to-do list”: promises that have been made, issues that need follow up, and questions that beg to be answered. The ombudsman will report directly to the National President, and will be a constant reminder of commitments made. Also, the ombudsman will take calls directly from Chapter Leaders who have an emergency situation at their site, whenever expertise and support is needed, and when the Chapter affected believes that the Field Office is slow to act.
The Field Offices will be made more responsive. A special team will visit the Field Offices, analyze the personnel, and ensure that the staff is thoroughly representing the interests of our membership. Key to this assessment process is consulting with the Chapter Presidents served by each particular Field Office, and receiving feedback from the Chapters on what is working, and where there is need for change. The Field will be strengthened by placing past and present Chapter Leaders with undisputed front line experience and expertise in Field positions to work in partnership with the lawyers presently there.
The recent diversion of resources from the Field Offices to the TSA recruiting campaign helped increase the backload and elimination of cases. I will work as swiftly as possible to deal responsibly with the present caseload and set up a process for the future that is responsive and accountable.
In the future, if we—note I said we, not I—decide to invest in an organization drive like the TSA campaign, I will make sure that we win.
It won’t be easy to recover quickly from the mistakes made in our pursuit of TSA, but one thing that we can do straight off is to begin the process of repaying our Chapters, who sacrificed resources in support of the battle. That’s why I created my Chapter Rebate Plan, which will return a portion of each Chapter’s annual dues as a onetime payment. The amount averages two percent, with smaller Chapters receiving a bigger percentage, but Chapters with larger bargaining units will get a healthy amount as well. The rebate will be of sufficient size for all to use toward building membership, paying arbitration expenses, or whatever the Chapter leadership believes will best help the Chapter. The payment will be made in early 2012.
At the Seattle Convention, our campaign staff will be accessible to provide you with an estimate of your Chapter’s rebate, if you have not already received it from our online Chapter Rebate Access Form. The amount is an estimate, based on your membership, and based on the information that we have.
Because I believe that outreach to employees is the most important tool in building a strong union, I will extend that approach in order to drive growth for NTEU. I will visit more sites—in every agency—in order to call attention to Chapter issues and boost membership.
When labor-busting efforts emerged in Wisconsin, I immediately stepped up to defend government workers, joining with prominent union supporters at various rallies in Austin. One event drew thousands to the Texas Capitol on Saturday, Feb. 26. The rally was one of 66 held across the nation on that day. Members of our Chapter—Chapter 247—were there, carrying their NTEU signs high.
Had I been National President at the time, I would have hopped on a plane for Wisconsin, the home of Chapter 1—where NTEU began back in the 1930s—and joined with our area Chapters in partnership with other unions to support government workers, just as I did in Texas.
A National President needs that kind of energy, imagination, and can-do spirit if they truly want to represent the values of their employees, and attract members—and public support—to our cause.
I promise to make greater use of the media to achieve recognition for NTEU. I firmly believe that our union’s potential for political activism has not been fully tapped. I will revamp our legislative program to make it more productive, and in order to strengthen our legislative influence, I will personally campaign among members to increase TEPAC participation.
The decision to sell off our major asset, and an estimable source of prestige—our national headquarters—was short-sighted and unforgiveable. The fact that it was done so unilaterally by the incumbent—before informing Chapter Leaders and NTEU’s Executive Board—is inexcusable.
I will consult with all of our leaders before making any large purchases or decisions. I will allow for full disclosure of the issues involved, and a transparent accounting of all matters carried out by our union. No leader will ever feel left out of the process.
Currently, our Executive Board is called in to ratify decisions already made by the President; briefing documents are not shared with the Board before meetings. The Board should be called on to contribute more input to the running of the union, as our Constitution calls for, and they should be awarded the respect of sharing information with them ahead of time.
At the root of everything that I have advocated are these principles: If I am elected NTEU National President, every Chapter will be fully and professionally represented, regardless of its size, and devoid of any type of favoritism. Chapter Leaders can depend on me to support them and to represent them with integrity. I will be accessible, accountable, and I will devote all of my energy to promoting, protecting, and increasing the visibility and effectiveness of NTEU.
You deserve no less of a commitment from your National President. – Eddie Walker, August 4, 2011