Good Afternoon, All!
My name is Ralph de Juliis. I am the President of AFGE Local 2505. If you want to know more about me and the other officers of Local 2505, please go to: http://www.afgelocal2505.org/bios.htm
I want to share my ENTHUSIAM for a merger of our Locals! I think it would be a GREAT idea and would be GREAT for both of our Locals!!
You would NOT become part of the Oklahoma Local; WE would become a new, stronger Local: the Arkansas-Oklahoma Local. This is NOT about you being subsumed; this is about a new, more dynamic and more effective Local with DOUBLE the number of members each of us had before. Truly, the sum will be GREATER than the parts!
Just to respond briefly to a couple of the "cons" below:
"larger geographical area / more costly representation (travel, etc)."
No. I am your Local's rep on almost everything. I have been to El Dorado for EEO; I have been to Pine Bluff, Russellville and Searcy for grievances; I have been to Ft. Smith, Pine Bluff, Russellville, No Little Rock and Searcy for organizing. It is not going to cost any more after our two Locals merge.
Anna and I have talked about attendance at your Local's quarterly meetings. For a starter, of course, half of the regular meetings are going to be in Arkansas.
Anna said that, other than the officers who get official time during the workday to travel and who are reimbursed for travel expenses, very few people attend. Local 2505 has quarterly Saturday meetings. Frankly, we can't get anyone to attend weeknight meetings when people have to take leave to drive several hours to a meeting location and won't get home until close to midnight because work night meetings means reps and members have to take leave to get to the meeting. Most have quite a drive and, after the meeting ends, are going to get home pretty late.
We'll simply have to find out what works best for us and our members. In upstate NY, the Locals authorize their officers and reps official time to travel Friday morning and have the afternoon for training and representational discussions for each office and then have our internal meeting Saturday morning so everyone can leave by noon. The Local also pays reimburses travel and accommodations and food. They have found that insures that the activists and officers come from all over the local and not just one office where they know each other, work together and see each other daily.
"might be harder to get involved and participate"
Since becoming Local President, I have notified SSA that ALL agreements are subject to membership ratification. That is just one way we try to get everyone involved.
Since becoming a Local Officer, I have visited EVERY office in my Local. I have found that employees are not very comfortable raising their issues complaints to people they don't know and haven't met. Internet bios and emails aside, actually talking to some one face-to-face and shaking their hand is very important. In a NEW Local, the first order of business is to visit every office so y'all can get to know who we are and what you can expect from us. OUR NEW LOCAL will make sure that the members know we will be there when they need us! THAT in turn will let them know that when they get involved, they won't be stuck out on a limb!
I would like to note that Local 2505 has officers from Tulsa, McAlester, Oklahoma City, Moore and Enid. (If you don't know how geographically spread out our officers are, please see: http://dalnet.kc.ssa.gov/area7/Area_map.htm ) Our officers are and have not always been from the same office, tucked away in one corner of the state. We get and keep people involved by telephone and email. AND, we have been very successful at it! Anna and I have talked about this issue also. For starters, we would restructure from 2 Vice Presidents to a Vice President for Arkansas and a Vice President for Oklahoma. Generally all Locals are very flexible: if there is some one whose participation is predicated on having a title, we'll make one! For instance, your local has a position of Chief Steward, which to my knowledge, has never been filled because no one has ever been interested.
It is hard to get people to be involved and participate. For a starter, we try to make sure folks don't have to choose between nothing or all in. For starters, we put our meeting minutes up on the website so that everyone who wants to know what is going on knows: http://www.afgelocal2505.org/Minutes/Minutes.htm. Additionally, we put our constitution up on the website: http://www.afgelocal2505.org/2505%20Constitution%20and%20Bylaws.htm; we put our Department of Labor Required Reports up on the website: http://www.afgelocal2505.org/LM%20Reports/LM%20Report%202005.htm.
We also try to put up grievances, ULPs, bargaining requests and MOUs, guidance the reps can use, Health and Safety Reports, OSHA complaints, etc, on the website. http://www.afgelocal2505.org/LM%20Reports/LM%20Report%202005.htm , http://www.afgelocal2505.org/Health%20&%20Safety.htm
The Reps and the members can see what has been filed; what has been won; what is happening in other offices. Many members are reluctant to be seen talking to the Union, especially if they aren't sure the Union can do anything to help them. So, the members can see for themselves the kinds of cases over which we have gone to bat for employees!
Let me assure you that if you email, I will not take weeks to get back to you. If you phone, I will answer. (I no longer give my SSA phone number or home number because I don't usually answer them. I answer my cell phone: 918-781-3096).
"How trained are his successors"
Local 2505 EVP Carol Lewis (see our bio page) has done two arbitrations with me, successfully getting a probationary employee's job back with $40,000 in back pay and getting a 2 day suspension reversed (AND the employee turned themselves in). 1st VP Mitzi Brooks is a TE with TWO, not one but TWO, Commissioner's Citations under her belt. She was lateralled into an OS position for over 2 years. She was scheduled to do an arbitration with me (Enid refusing to give any SR an award). The Arbitrator cancelled and we are in the process of rescheduling. Mitzi and I are bargaining the creation of a contact station in Woodward and are awaiting SSA's response to our latest proposal. 2nd VP Mary Roberts just did an arbitration with me. After the hearing, Arbitrator Halter told her she did a great job and would be replacing me one day.
"How long will he continue"
When I no longer look forward to getting my cup of Starbucks and coming to work to see what has happened and what needs to be done next, when there is no longer a thrill and challenge in besting SSA, it will be time for me to pass the reins. Right now, I am having the TIME OF MY LIFE! I LOVE what I do! I am passionate about it! I am NOT France; I am NOT neutral! I am zealous and fervent! (Did I mention that my ex-wife gets 1/4 of my Civil Service retirement? That is also a consideration I must factor into any retirement decision!)
Right now Local 2505 is doing things "they" said couldn't be done: Appraisal/Awards: 3 different employees filed a grievance on their awards. We got them a higher appraisal AND the commensurate ROC to go with it. An employee filed a grievance on non-selection: we settled at step 1. An employee was denied permission for outside employment. "They" said it wasn't grievable; AND, we got SSA to give the employee permission anyway. "They" said that there was no hope in arbitrating the removal of a probationary employee. We won. In short, very little is impossible if one tries and stays with it!
I hope my enthusiasm, passion and commitment convinces you that a merger of our two locals will be a good thing and will work!
In summation, the PROS of a merger far outweigh the CONS!
*Leadership with National negotiations and arbitration experience / a track record / knowledge.
*Respect of the Union, Union Leadership and Local Representatives
*More aggressive leadership.
*Expert in formal processes.
*Someone with a lot of national contacts to serve as a go between for members and Council.
*Knowledgeable about Union benefits and how to use them.
*Leadership with concrete solutions to specific problems.
*Leadership with an existing reputation among management in Arkansas.
*Better working environment through inclusion of input of Local Reps
*More monitoring of offices and office managers and their policies.
*Eradication of unwritten policies that violate the contract.
*Effective enforcement of the Contract.*
*More communication with the reps over issues specific to their office.
*More information distribution to members.
*Creation of opportunities for involvement.
*More flexibility and innovation in meetings - times/locations etc.
*Reducing barriers for reps through more training for reps.
*More support for reps.
*More mentoring for reps.
*More resources/resource people for reps.
*More protection and support for members.
*Safer/healthier workplaces through enforcement of Contract.
*More money and bigger budget
*Fiscally sound structure.
*Increase in overall success of the Union.
*More activities, events.
*Someone to push for more fairness, more opportunities.
Please call me or email me if you have any questions or concerns!
Ralph de Juliis, President
AFGE Local 2505