Monday, January 14, 2008

Reasons to Unionize

Several union teams made house visits this weekend, hoping to talk to AAGs about joining the organizing effort. Thank you to all whom we visited for making time to talk with us. Thank you for signing, thank you for sharing your support, thank you for your feedback and thank you for explaining your concerns. Learning from this weekend, we have decided to get back to the basics and post our reasons for wanting to organize. This list is a work in progress and in no particular order. Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas. As always, you can post anonymously.

  • Job security will allow us to focus on fulfilling the statutory obligations of the attorney general to the best of our abilities. This obligation should not be minimized or compromised by the politics of the AG.
  • The citizens of Minnesota are better served by stable, experienced workforce. Turnover is to be expected in a normal work environment, but the entire depth of experience and knowledge at the attorney general's office should not have the potential to be flushed out every time the office changes hands. There are about 300 "at will" employees in the office.
  • Staff salaries should be consistent and transparent. Heck, it might be helpful to the AG if the pay scale process was set in stone. Currently, the AG can be hurt politically if s/he raises the staff salaries (even slightly) and often waits until odd times of the year or until after an election year to give raises or bonuses.
  • Communication, communication, communication. Why do staff arrive (or depart) with little or no fanfare? Why doesn't the office post transfer opportunities? What is going on in the office? We are kept in silos and often have no idea what other divisions, much less the office as a whole, is doing.
  • You could say no OR yes to envelope stuffing parties, door knocking outings and lawn signs (and internal petitions) because you want to, not because you are driven by fear to do so.
  • Job security. Hey, this isn't about a bureaucratic free ride--we expect to work hard and we want to do the best job we can for the State. But there should be a process for termination or demotion, etc. As noted in other posts, at present an AG termination comes as a coldcock to the AAG or legal assistant (and from what we gather, quite often to the manager who does the termination as well.) We'd like a process in place to explain "problems" before they reach the point of termination and give the staff person a chance to improve or consider a change in venue.
  • If staff had done this 20 years ago, we wouldn't be playing these games now. Let's make changes now so that future AG staff (and Attorneys General!) can enjoy the benefits.
  • A healthy workplace yields happy, productive staff.
A note: Many of you have expressed support for our efforts, but are too afraid to sign a card. We acknowledge the climate of fear in the office, and this demonstrates why we need to organize! We need to be able to do our best to serve the public without having to constantly worry about being fired. The movement to organize is about all of us, about the future of the office and--most importantly--about the public good. There is strength in numbers! We are very close to reaching critical mass. Please, put your personal fears aside, join us and let's make this happen!


Anonymous said...

Here is an example of why we need to organize: The office has posted a listing for a very specific line attorney position on the Minn. Lawyer website, yet it has not "posted" the position within the office. The only way a current AAG would know about that opportunity would be to check Minn. Lawyer. It's this lack of communication, of course, that might drive someone to check those listings in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Correction: the posting is on the MSBA site.