Support Services All-Craft Training

Arrion Brown

November 15, 2023

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The Support Services Division provided three days of informative and productive training at the APWU 2023 All-Craft Conference. We taught workshops on building the labor movement through the Support Services Division, grievance writing and preparation, properly completing Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) paperwork, and back pay training. They were well received, and members left the conference more informed with the intent to share the information with their respective locals.

The “Building the Labor Movement through Support Services” class had five main objectives: to teach the history of the Support Services Division, to define a union, provide a history of the labor movement, understand how we can build the labor movement through the Support Services Division, and the importance of organizing, which was a discussion led by APWU Organization Director Anna Smith.

The history of the labor movement portion taught how unions were first organized by workers who fought for better wages and working conditions more than a century ago, a fight that unions continue today. We looked at the successes of the labor movement, such as the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, which legally recognized unions legally in many industries for the first time. We also discussed the violent repression working people endured while struggling to better their lives. That included the Ludlow Massacre of 1914, where coalminers on strike against the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company were engaged in armed conflict against the Colorado National Guard who were sent by the Governor to break the strike.

The struggles working class people have experienced throughout history led the group to discussions about economics. The discussion centered on the reality that our economic system has not, and does not, work for masses of working people. Unions remain key institutions for working people to fight back against a system that was not designed for us.

The grievance writing and preparation class taught how to fully develop grievances at the earliest possible point. Grievances should be thoroughly investigated Support Services All-Craft Training and written out in detail at least by the time they are submitted at Step 2. Key items to include in a fully developed grievance are: the contractual violation(s), date of the incident, names of those involved in the violation, witness statements, associated JCIM language, and a detailed remedy. The importance of timeliness was also stressed when filing grievances and moving them through the system. They should always be filed and moved to the next steps whether information has been provided or meetings with management have occurred, unless an extension is agreed to with management. Grievances help defend our contract and membership; fully developed grievances are foundational to that defense.

Training for the FMLA explained when employees are eligible for FMLA and how to submit documentation properly. Documentation should be completed by your healthcare provider and all questions on the documents should be answered. A failure to complete FMLA paperwork properly will delay processing until the information is completed.

The Back Pay training for grievance settlements class addressed how to complete PS form 8038. The PS 8038 is the form submitted to management and used by management to complete PS form 8039. It is critical for bargaining unit employees to review PS form 8039 for accuracy prior to management submitting the forms for processing. Discrepancies between the 8038 and 8039 forms delay processing and payment and must be corrected.

The diversity of topics allowed the attendees to leave the conference more informed and better equipped to represent the membership. ■

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