Actions Matter – CATs Connect Union Members, Relay Details During Contract Bargaining

Members of the Contract/Contact Action Team are activists within each worksite. During bargaining, CATs keep their co-workers updated and communicate ideas and feedback from members to the people on the bargaining team. CATs also organize co-workers to sign petitions and attend rallies connected to bargaining. Team members are most active during bargaining time, which will start again January 2017.

CATs can also organize around work site issues that their co-workers care about. Even if an issue is not a violation of the union contract, we can still gather support through a petition or survey and communicate our messages to management. We can have a collective voice in our workplace to ensure everyone is treated well. A recent example is our petition to the university housing department to bargain fairly for changes to employee wages, instead of unilaterally seeking to take away free meals from workers as it proposed. We do not have to watch in despair as things go downhill—the people who manage us need our ideas as much as our labor.

Last month, five CATs spent their lunch hour with new classified employees during New Employee Orientation. More employees became union members since CATs began attending NEO alongside SEIU 085 Membership Coordinator Gary Malone and David Pinsonneault, a union organizer.

“It shows great unionism to have all of you share a little bit of time meeting [new employees] and answering any questions they might have,” Pinsonneault said.

Several CATs asked for brown bag union lunch meetings for their co-workers. In response, I put together a team of executive committee members, classified senate representatives and Kurt Willcox, the classified staff member on the UO Board of Trustees to visit work sites and talk with people who are union members.

Become a CAT–Join the Contact Action Team

Please get in touch with Lois Yoshishige

or either of our union field representatives—

Your commitment can be minimal—CATs are expected to do the following.

  • Distribute union informa on to other people who are classified employees in your work-site
  • Communicate ideas, questions and concerns from your colleagues to members of the executive committee or a local union organizer
  • A end the noon CAT meeting on the first Wednesday of every month and the noon local membership meeting on the second Wednesday of every month—if your lunch time does not allow for this, we can figure out a different way to connect
  • Ask new employees in your work site to become union members
  • Update the union bulletin board in your department

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SEIU Local 085