A successful solidarity-building action takes a good organizer and some creativity. It should be a little subversive (without violating the contract!) and immediate in its response to management. Most importantly, it should inspire members to participate.
All of those elements were in play recently at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center when members on day shift banded together to make a statement.
In this case, management wanted to crack down on a few people who were leaving their shift early. Instead of focusing on individuals, their method was to punish the entire group for the indiscretions of a few.
The punishment was simple. The captain directed everyone on day shift to wait in public access for several minutes longer than required, after they'd already been relieved from duty.
It was humiliating, unnecessary, and a violation of a previous practice.
The next day, 27 members on day shift gave management a taste of their own medicine. They waited outside of the gate until the last possible moment before the start of their shift.
The shift lieutenant was panicked and thought no one would report to work. He even went out to the gate to make sure it was functioning properly.
"We sent a powerful message," said Amber Bates, a Business Rep who used to work at the prison. "Staff were excited and it spread through the facility like rapid fire. People felt empowered that we can do something by standing together and we can win."
Since then, the captain has apologized to staff and the old practice of checking in and out of the facility has been restored.
This just goes to show what members can accomplish when they stick together and stand up for their rights at work. If you want some ideas about solidarity, look to the Teamsters at Clallam Bay.