Website is Closed

usa

September 11, 2007

mylocal3.com
Brothers and Sisters of Local #3,
                                                           
It is with a sad heart that I announce the closing of Mylocal3.com. This decision did not come lightly and has weighed heavily on me for the last six months. The decision to close this website was freely made by me alone. Anyone who claims to have been involved with the closing of this website is mistaken or outright lying. After much soul searching I made the decision for a few reasons. 
 
Reason number one:
Number one is the increased amount of vitriol that has permeated this website. Although it can be said that there were always a fair amount of controversial postings on this website, the last year has demonstrated a complete disarray of the message board. I am sorry to say that a large and vocal membership on this website was incapable of discussing the issues without the discussion deteriorating into chaos.  I have found this trend disturbing for some time now and have decided to finally end the discussion. Having said that I do believe there were many discussions that were legitimate and important discussions pertaining to our union. The constant background noise of nonsense drowned a lot of it out though.
 
 
Reason number two:
There were many important topics and issues discussed throughout the years this site was in existence and together we have identified many problems that should be addressed. While this is a good start and the solution to any problem starts with its identification, this is only half of the equation. Once a problem is identified action must be taken to resolve the issue. In this regard I believe Mylocal3.com has become a detriment to solving these problems. It is far too easy to complain about things than it is to do something about them.  The time for complaining is over. It is now up to the men, the union leadership, and the contractors to roll up their sleeves and work the problems out. Mylocal3 took the pulse of thousands of members and gave them a space to speak their minds. The result was not always pretty. The union and the contractors can ignore what was said on this website at their own peril. If the union and contractors are serious about labor relations and management they will take a good look at what was written here and avoid the urge to dismiss the information that was provided on this website. There never was a time when it was more urgent for this union to come together. There never was a time when it was more urgent for the rank and file to get involved with the process of how this union runs. There never was a time when it was more urgent for the contractors to look at their management teams and take an honest look at how their companies run. There never was a time when it was more urgent for the union to refrain from “the back slap club mentality” while trying to convince themselves that all is well and everything is peachy. I urge our leadership to surround themselves with men who will give them the honest truth, not the yes men who say what they want to hear. There never was a time when it was more urgent for everyone to remember they are working for a customer who is paying their salaries.
 
 
Reason number three:
 
Number three is the fact that the union and the JIB have respectively updated and created their own websites. While they are not perfect they are a big improvement and a good base to work on. I would suggest the union website include email addresses for all the officers of the union and include a mechanism to report unsafe working conditions on jobsites such as a form or better yet a help ticket system with tracking numbers. This would go a long way to increased communication between the rank and file and the union leadership. I would recommend the JIB website create electronic forms to submit benefits sheets online rather than downloading them, filling them out, and mailing them. This can include error checking that would reduce the number of submissions containing missing information. An online page listing all benefit holdings for each member would also be useful.   The inclusion of contact information and email for each department is vital. I realize these things take time to implement but hope these things are already in the planning or design stages. This website thrived because of an information vacuum. Provide the information and communication tools the membership needs and you will never see another mylocal3.com again. This is not intended as a threat but rather a fact as to how and why a renegade website is created. The time of one way communication is over. This is 2007. If you don’t create a way to communicate with your members then someone else will.
 
These are the main reasons I have decided to close this website. As this is my final statement on this website I wish to address the contractors, the union leadership, and the rank and file members in detail. The following are my statements to each group.
 
To the contractors:
I have worked for many shops. Some seemed more successful than others. The successful shops fostered a sense of teamwork among their employees. The men were treated honestly and fairly and in return the men were expected to perform a good day’s work. The idea is a fair day’s work for a fair day’s wage. When a worker is treated like a disposable commodity or worse they are less inclined to give back the fair day’s work you are seeking. The policies of a shop are dictated from the top down. When the owner, super, project managers and foreman work together as a team it is a powerful combination that steers each company. Each component of the team is either a finely tuned instrument of a grand orchestra or a bunch of knuckleheads in a garage band.
The choice is yours. The main problem, as I see it, is some shops want to play a symphony with a garage band. This is always going to fail. In all the unsuccessful companies I ever worked for, the root of the problem could be directly traced to bad management of men and resources. Get your act together. To the owners of shops I implore you to never forget who YOU work for. You are working for your customer. Too many owners and supers forget this. It has amazed me to watch how some companies treat their customers. I would always wonder how they expected to get repeat business. The days of bullshitting the customer are over. Corporations are hiring engineers in droves to protect their investments. When you sit across the conference table and bullshit your customer the quiet guy at the table who is taking notes is documenting your stupidity. When corporations do not call you for a second job you may want to take a good look in the mirror. I was around long enough to do a second tour in a few shops. One shop in particular did not get a lot of repeat business and was smaller the second time I worked for them. The management of the company always complained about the men and did not tire of telling the owner how much he was getting screwed. It was like that both times I worked for them. The most amusing fact I recognized was the men in the shop had almost completely turned over since my first visit with them but the management team was exactly the same yet the shop had gotten smaller and was getting into deeper financial ruin. You can only blame the men so long. Owners, evaluate your management teams on a regular basis. Get out to the jobs and talk to the men. You may be surprised. Your men cannot do the job if they do not get the full support from their management. If I had a nickel for every time I was on a job with no tools, material, and prints that were two revisions old I would be a millionaire. You expect your men to pull their weight but you have to do your part too. Watch your project managers and supers like you watch the men. Service your customer because they are your most precious investment. Do a quality job. Leave your customer happy so he will brag to his colleges how great your company is. If you are going to do half a job and slop things in as fast as possible to maximize your profit be prepared to reap the consequences. You have no one to blame for that but yourself. If you are going to double bill them don’t be surprised when they refuse to pay or pay and don’t call you back. When you don’t meet deadlines because you have undermanned the jobs don’t be surprised when your customers are annoyed and seek other contractors. I have seen all this with my own eyes. The days of under manning the jobs and hitting the customer up for overtime are over. You do not have a monopoly anymore and there are other companies who will service the customer the way they want.  Always be honest with your men and your customers. This one simple idea will pay back handsome dividends. Remember these words.
 
To the union leadership:
When I was accepted into Local 3 I felt I had reached the pinnacle of my career. I looked at the union leadership like they were wise beyond understanding. I remember seeing some of you at the hall and thinking how fortunate I was to have you as my advocate.
During my initial years in the union I was in some really bad shops and saw a lot of unfair situations unfold. I would think if only the union officials knew this was going on they would straighten this right out. As I got to know some of you my thoughts changed. 
I realized that some did know what was going on but failed to act. I would watch one brother after another go through some kind of screwing and be quietly relegated to the land of the bad lay off. I myself went through a few situations where I sought help from stewards and business agents only to find out I was on my own. This was a serious blow to my understanding of our union. I would think this couldn’t happen in Local 3, maybe in some 363 or non union shop but not Local 3?   For the past twenty years it has been like a rotting tooth slowly decaying. I am not saying everyone at 158-11 is a corrupt individual and I am sure that there are some great people in our leadership. Contrary to popular belief I do think there are some great men in our union leadership. The fact is though you have gotten to cozy with the contractors. The lines have blurred. Do not forget who you work for. You work for the men. You are not royalty. You are here to serve the rank and file member. Get your act together. The membership is not just a bunch of names on a sheet of paper. They are people who have families and those people rely on you. Get out to the jobs and speak to your membership. Call people back when they call you. Try to give the rank and file guy the benefit of the doubt once in a while. Watch your stewards. How are they looking out for the rank and file interest when the company who they are assigned to pays them 35 and 50 every week? I am not implying they are all bad but I have to admit I have met plenty that take as much as they can while watching their brothers get sold out. Don’t take my word for it. Stop by the job your steward is on unannounced every now and then. Is he there? Is he awake? Maybe you are aware of this and maybe your not. Either way it happens on your watch.
The men are not as stupid as you think they are.  Create ways to communicate better with your members. The new website is a great start. How about putting some email addresses on there? How about a form page to report unsafe working conditions?
Let this membership feel free to criticize its leaders and you may learn something you need to learn. If you do that one thing you will never see a website like this one again as members will not have to hide to voice their concerns. Start your own message board on the official website? Open the mike at every union meeting and resist the urge to fill the first ten rows with members who will shout down a dissenting point of view. When a vote for something important is coming up get your membership all the information they require to make an informed decision. This website thrived on the information vacuum that was created by the union leadership. When there are issues affecting the entire membership let the entire membership vote on the issue. A show of hands vote among 20% of the union is hardly a true accounting of the entire membership’s wishes. Other unions let their entire membership vote through mail why not us? One union official once told me at length why Local 3 did not like mylocal3.com. He said it was all about control. Is this what our union is about? Controlling the masses? For an organization that teaches democratic principles in detail it sure seems to ignore them when it is convenient. Reform the current bad lay off system. The grievance process is a joke. Everyone knows it. Have a member judged by his piers not friends of the super in the company that laid him off. You can create a jury pool from the membership and hold grievances on the same night as union meetings giving the jury members one or more stamps they would get at a union meeting. Reform the foreman’s committee. This is just a clearing house for whomever an owner or super wants regardless of qualification. Unqualified foreman will be the undoing of this union. Expand the education of foreman and project managers. Create education for the M division. Make every man who gets A rate take the A test. Do what you have to, to reduce division amongst the rank and file. Bring this union together. Lead and the men will follow. Make this membership believe in the union. It will require giving up some of that control but so much can be achieved when you have men willingly behind you rather than frightened into submission. The new business manager has shown some signs of reform and I know there is a lot of lost ground to make up. I hope for this union’s sake that he continually works toward reform. I have seen more change in the last year than in the previous 10. To him I suggest he surrounds himself with men who will be honest with him. It is far too easy to surround yourself with yes men. While this is good for the ego it will never let you know the true picture of what is out there. You can’t fix something that you are not aware of. When a member has a problem it is the duty of this union to help him with all available resources. The “brother your lucky to have a job” answer is unacceptable. We are all doing great compared to workers in China but this is America. You can dismiss everything I have said here as the uninformed ramblings of a single malcontent or you could ask yourself if there is any truth here. The choice is yours. I invite you to take the pulse of the membership by sending an anonymous questionnaire to the entire membership. If you really want to know what’s going on I couldn’t think of a better way. Then again maybe you don’t want to know what’s going on. I would suggest sending it out once a year. If you do send it out try to resist the urge to put tracking numbers on it like the raffle envelopes the clubs would send out. Keep it anonymous. I know I am not the most popular person on the fourth floor of 158-11. I am not a Local 3 hater. I never was. I honestly didn’t think you knew what was going on out in the field. Well after all these years it should be obvious. The ball is in your court now. Now there is no more mylocal3.com. Will that make all the problems go away? I think not. This message board was labeled as the root of divisiveness in our local. I submit that the divisiveness was always there and this website brought it out in the open. It is time to bring the membership back together. This should be job one of our union officials. This website is now gone. Will the divisiveness disappear with it? I doubt this. I truly hope you can turn things around and create a better future for all the members of Local 3.
 
To the rank and file members:
I saved this message for last but not the least in our organization. In fact I have always believed you to be the best component of our industry. I have had the great fortune to work with and for some of the best men I have ever met. I learned, laughed, and made some great friends. My biggest critique of you is you fail to realize that you all are the union. Together you are more powerful than you realize. The time for complaining is over. As distasteful as it may seem to some of you, you are going to have to get involved in this union. Don’t like the clubs? Start your own independent of a BA. Publish a newsletter and distribute it at union meetings. Meet with like minded individuals you meet at work. Start an email list. Big things start small. Do what you must. It is time to bring things out of the shadows into reality. This is one of the primary reasons for closing this website. It became a crutch to real change. It is easy to complain but that time is over. You have three choices accept things as they are, work on changing them, or leave the industry. As far as we know this is the one life we all get to live. Don’t spend it bitter or miserable. Do what you must to be happy. I do not speak these words lightly. Change is a difficult thing and I do not downplay the severity of the situation. The men who step up will have to be fearless. Most men are put off once they get the mystery visitors to their jobsite that ask them why they are making waves. This is a reality. The deck is stacked against you. I have no easy answers for you. My choice was to leave. It was not an easy decision and required courage to do. For me it was the right decision. I can only say that every member of this union is capable of greatness. It requires a willingness to do something, the execution of a plan, and perseverance to see it through. I commend every man who chooses a path and guarantee you will be surprised how much more you can accomplish than you originally thought you could. We also have to look within ourselves. There is a segment within our ranks that can hurt us all. The members who have their “game on” must be shunned. Anyone who seriously believes in “hide and seek for a grand a week” must be dealt with. Members with drinking or drug problems should be reported for their own good and the good of the union. Although these types of members are a small percentage of this union (As they exist in any organization) they can exponentially cause serious damage. We have to police ourselves. We have to always be professional. The customers are looking at us with a microscope.   We have to do our part and yes I know a vast majority does this on a daily basis. Always strive to be better. Keep educating yourself. Take the foreman’s position. Run the job like it should be run. This membership has to step up. Be fearless.  You can either silently watch the whole thing slide into the toilet or do something about it. What you do, I will leave to your creativity and imagination. If every member of this union took some small step to improve it in some way the effect would be enormous. Even the largest buildings get built one brick at a time. If we are not constantly building we are just watching things decay. I realize many members feel disenfranchised with the union leadership but this is a new day and maybe it can be different. Time will tell. One thing is sure; if you do nothing then you will get nothing. The time for viewing the union as some kind of movie rather than being an active participant is over. What ever you do no matter how small will have an effect on this organization. We have to come together as a true brotherhood. Many of you are some of the smartest people I have ever met. You can do it. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.
 
 
Final Statement:
Having had my say I officially close the message board. The email for this website is just a machine response and I will not be reading anything sent to the website address. I realize many members of this message board are disappointed in this decision and I am sorry for this disappointment. I would like to thank all the moderators and other webmasters who have helped me throughout the years. Your help was greatly appreciated. I will always be an advocate for this union and still work to further its cause. If I had to recommend one website to visit now that this one is closed, I would recommend visiting uniondemocracy.org. There is a wealth of information there. If you ever stop by Kelly’s Bar feel free to say hello. I am the guy with the glasses and graying hair at the corner of the Bar. God Bless you all.
 
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