Getting Part-Timers Involved: an interview with Local 804 steward Kioma Forero

January 8, 2015: Stewards in your building have had a lot of success in winning grievances and getting more members involved. How do you do it?
A lot of our organizing is done from our parking lot meetings held every other Thursday and Friday.
What do you do at the parking lot meetings?
The topics depend on what the most important issues are at work that week. One week it could be management cracking down on attendance, another it could be on policies and procedures. We’re responding to what members are dealing with that week.
We deal with supervisors working a lot. When sups working becomes a problem, we’ll have a meeting and explain the violation and contract language. We’ll do a grievance training, taking members through the whole process, from gathering facts, filing the grievance, and what the procedure is. Members get the tools to file grievances, get their grievance pay, and learn how to enforce the contract.
During the last contract negotiations, we used the meetings to survey members on what their issues were, answer members questions about proposals and the negotiation process and to explain what’s in the new contract.
There are so many problems at UPS. How do you choose where to focus?
We pick the hot issues—ones that effect a lot of members, ones that people feel strongly about. And we look for issues where we can win and make a difference for people.
You can’t deal with everybody and every issue, so I try to find the people who are interested and want to know more and the ones who want to work with others and build the union. I try to mentor women, too. There’s a new assistant steward and you can tell she has what it takes to be a really good leader.
What would you say to people who say you can’t get part-timers involved?
I’d ask them if they were ever a part-timer and remember what it was like!
Part-timers get involved in my local because we’re taking on our issues—supervisors working, the need for more full-time jobs, harassment. You’ve got to get to know the problems part-timers are dealing with and address them before you jump to conclusions about parttimers not being involved.
There was record turnout from part-timers in our last local election, because our side [the incumbent slate, Members United—ed.] campaigned on winning more full-time jobs. Part-timers voted big in the election and we ended up winning 150 new full-time jobs in the new contract.
Local 804 had a bus full of members attend the TDU Convention. How has TDU helped you educate members?
TDU gives members the bigger picture on what it takes to make the union stronger, on the need to reform the whole union. The TDU Conventions empower members and gives them tips on the nuts and bolts of winning grievances and organizing. They like being with other members who are working to make the union stronger too.
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