I’m not the steward on my shift, but I’m definitely the most out-spoken member! I speak my mind and I file grievances when the boss breaks the contract. The day after I filed my last grievance, he took me in his office and gave me a warning letter. I know it’s payback—what can I do about it?
— Telling It Like It Is
Dear Truth-Teller, The first rule of the Teamster Troublemaker is to keep your nose clean.
Don’t give the boss ammo he or she can use against you. If you have problems with absenteeism on the job, the boss can come after you—and it will be harder to defend you.
It’s good to be outspoken, but be careful not to cross the line and be insubordinate, or to use foul or offensive language.
Try not to be a lone ranger either. I know that’s easier said than done. Many members are afraid for their jobs and lay low.
It’s tempting to write people off, but don’t. Think “baby steps.” One trick I use is to ask members to tell me when management is violating our contract. I file the grievance and then split the payout with them.
Most members are not as outspoken as your or me, and that’s OK. But I’m always trying to get one or two more to join our team.
Get informed and get tools to be more effective. TDU holds workshops on legal rights on the job, beating apathy, and more. Other educational programs are available as well.
The National Labor Relations Act protects members from retaliation by either your boss or your union officials for filing grievances, supporting candidates in union elections, or being in TDU. These are all considered “protected activity” under the law.
But it’s not always easy to prove a case. The burden is on you to prove that you were discriminated against for union activity.
Your best bet: if you think your boss broke the law, get in touch with TDU.