This is a very common problem especially with young or inexperienced groups. But don’t think it can’t happen do you because your group has been around a while. It can.
Many times members will bend the Local’s ear with complaints about what the company is or isn’t doing and they will expect the Local to do something about it right then and there. But when you asked them to sign a grievance or provide a statement they said “I don’t want to get involved” or “I’m afraid of retaliation”.
Sound familiar? It did for me but for a different reason. See I worked in “law enforcement” as a guard for many years prior to getting involved in the Union and this was a very common problem when officers would get called to respond and the citizen demanded that they do something about it right then and there. They would also get a similar response when it came time to swear a complaint out. “Oh, I don’t want to get involved” etc. You get the picture.
So how to you get around this? That is the $64,000 dollar question after all.
First and foremost you must work hard to communicate and explain to the Member what could, would or should happen. Walk them through the steps should they decide to file a grievance and tell them what could happen as well as what should happen. But don’t forget to tell them what won’t happen if no one steps up to do the right thing.
Think of a Local like a small town or village just starting out. In the beginning everyone had to fend for themselves. Those with power took advantage of those that did not until the people banded together and formed a governing body to watch over everyone.
This governing body had to write and pass the laws that were going to bind everyone and after that they had to set up a mechanism of enforcement and justice.
In the early days the village only had a sheriff with maybe a couple of deputies to help out part-time. As time went by the village grew into a town and finally into a city with a government that grew to fill the city’s needs.
Local Unions are that government and the Stewards are the “Cops of the Shop” and just like the law in your town they also had to deal with reluctant citizens who would rather complain than act. It’s your job to educate and encourage those citizens to do the right thing.
Albert Einstein once wrote that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. You need to tell the member to stop complaining and start filing grievances.