We’ve blogged before about the important role community-wide labor-management committees, such as CALMC, can have on local workplace issues and economic development. At a recent meeting, board members once again discussed some issues that had an impact on labor, management and the community. It continues to demonstrate the need for community labor-management committees and councils and it’s not just us at CALMC saying that.
Some think tanks are advocating for stronger worker voice and they believe creating environments where partnerships can be created will help with issues such as income inequality and other problems both labor and management face. The community-wide labor-management committees are those partnerships that can help everyone not just labor and management.
The Center for American Progress says labor laws need to be updated which will not only help build a stronger system for workers but will also help to build a stronger economic system overall and that helps everybody. They believe collaborative efforts can provide workers with extra strength and businesses can become more competitive.
Establishing collaborative efforts, they say, can help with industry-wide standards that will benefit workers and businesses. Standards can be done for wages, benefits, job skills and experience. Training standards can also be accomplished. All of these can help make a more productive workforce.
At our board meetings, board members have discussed most of those standards identified by The Center for American Progress. At one meeting, a couple of board members talked about their benefits plan to another board member who went back to initiate changes in his organization’s benefit structure. One management board member has talked about the need for industry standards because if not he can’t compete with those businesses that have lower standards. Both he and his union counterparts work together to develop better industry standards that help not only them but consumers as well. Management and labor have also discussed issues involving wage theft and workers’ compensation that require legislative efforts which pertains to the labor law updates the think tank said were needed.
Sometimes board members talk about issues that initiate action. That action is like the example above on the benefits changing at one organization. Sometimes it can be opportunity for someone to ask for ideas on how to address particular workplace issues or it might be starting the thought process on how to approach legislators about new, upcoming or current legislation. And sometimes it can simply be networking.
It’s the networking that sparked the discussion at our recent board meeting that helped both labor and management members. Before the meeting, a couple of board members worked together to get services to workers who had just been laid off. During the meeting, they talked about it which prompted other members to name workplaces that were hiring. Some of the workplaces were going to need lots of workers and paid good wages and benefits. One management member said he would be interested in talking to those being laid off because his organization was having a difficult time filling jobs as many of their workers were retiring.
That wasn’t all that happened at this meeting. One member wanted a sample of some contractual language to help make workplace improvements. Another member was able to provide the sample.
And finally, there also was discussion about a new role CALMC is going to have in the community to help prepare junior high age children for possible careers in the skilled trades fields. Skilled trades jobs are going to be in demand for some time and it’s difficult now to fill a lot of those jobs. For some children, this will be an opportunity to escape poverty with a job that pays well, has good benefits and continuous training. It also can help them to understand union jobs may not be a bad choice. Both management and labor members are eagerly volunteering to help with the project. It’s something we’re all very excited about and we’ll be blogging more about this in the future.
All of these examples cited by both CALMC and The Center for American Progress are why community wide labor-management committees are important. It’s what we do. We reach out to each other for help and to help. We create a voice for workers and strengthen our workplaces and communities.