Updates from the Bargaining Team Retreat

This post reproduces an email sent to GTFF members on December 29, 2022. View the original format.

On December 14 and 15, members of the bargaining team participated in a retreat facilitated by Lead Negotiators Emalydia Flenory and Cy Abbott. The goal of this retreat was for the bargaining team to get to know each other, agree on decision-making process, and become familiar with the problems that were identified in the membership survey and issues from past bargaining cycles. This email is the first in a series meant to keep the bargaining unit informed of our progress, up to date on important milestones, and as a channel by which to encourage continual dialogue between rank-and-file members and those who have volunteered to be a part of the bargaining team. While the rest of this email will contain additional information about our progress, please know that you can view our meeting minutes at any time through this Google Drive folder

Keep on reading to learn more!

Decision-Making Process

Our discussion on this topic balanced the challenges of our negotiation calendar, a passionate commitment to transparency, and the importance of consensus. We adjusted the process used by the last contract bargaining team, so that we have a streamlined table by which to assess support for proposals. This modified process of partial consensus allows for disagreement, but ensures both that a singular dissent cannot cause bottlenecks and that a minority cannot push through decisions.

Lastly, there are two important components to note: 

  1. Bargaining Team members may not abstain from voting.
  2. A quorum of 9 members (i.e. 50 percent of our current bargaining team) is required to make any decision.

Curious why we chose 9 as the quorum? Well, keep on reading!

Jan. 9, 2023:
Last Chance to Formally Join the Bargaining Team

An important legal component of bargaining is formally identifying the members of the Bargaining Team. The reason for this identification is to ensure those individuals are afforded the full legal protection associated with the bargaining process, which is slightly different from normal retaliation protections contained within our contract and generally applied through federal and state law. With this in mind, the last chance to formally join the bargaining team will be on January 9, 2023. 

Formally joining the team means that you’d be committing yourself to attend every Bargaining Team meeting and negotiation session through the rest of this entire process (reminder: this is going to last until the end of 2023). This is not a small commitment. However, not joining the bargaining team does not imply that you do not have a say in the process. Planning meetings are always open to the entire membership to attend at any time. These meetings will be held every Monday from 6–8pm at the GTFF office and on the GTFF Zoom, so always feel welcome to drop in.

To address the quorum teaser in the last section, we currently have 18 members of the bargaining team. While we might gain or lose people during the next few months since life and school can be intense, we wanted to choose a formal number by which to always require quorum. With this in mind, we decided that at least 50 percent of the team should be required, resulting in 9. However, if our bargaining team membership should change, the quorum will not. This will ensure that if we drop below 9 members, we will be forced to address the problem of low representation since we will not be able to vote on any additional measures. However, we think this outcome to be unlikely as all current bargaining team members understand the commitment required for this process.

Understanding and Prioritizing Issues

Let’s get something out of the way first: every issue communicated in the bargaining survey responses is important. If you are experiencing a workplace challenge, it is the role of the GTFF to support and advocate for you. 

The challenge of bargaining is that it’s a lot like playing tridimensional chess in Ten Forward on the Enterprise: If you get too focused on one dimension, you might not see the Romulan raiding party bust into the bar! 

That terrible metaphor aside, we take this process incredibly seriously. Here are the steps we took to ensure every issue is fully considered:

  1. As a group, we discussed each issue to ensure all Bargaining Team members agreed on the underlying problem at hand.
  2. Working separately, individual team members ranked each item with a priority level (1 to 3, where 1 is highest priority) and perception of the effort needed to properly resolve the issue (1 to 3, where 3 is highest effort). 
  3. We averaged our individual priority and effort rankings of each item to determine a group ranking.
  4. Starting at the lowest averaged priority, we discussed each item to ensure agreement in the result, understand how it compared with the averaged effort ranking, and give space for disagreements to be addressed. 

This process took a lot of time, which we believe was well spent. The next step will be comparing this assessment with the manually coded results from the bargaining survey to ensure the platform we present to you at the winter General Member Meeting (GMM) on January 20 is representative of the concerns you voiced. This last step is vital because you as members will be asked to ratify that platform at the GMM.

Regardless of priority or effort ranking, our goal here is to make the biggest impact we can for those in the most need. To quote the Rank-and-File UC Irvine UAW members, “[Rank & File] demands shape the movement–not the other way around.” 

The Bargaining Team is committed to fighting for you because you are the movement. 

Important Dates

Bargaining Team Meetings (held at GTFF Office and via Zoom)

  • Jan. 9, 2023, 6-8pm
  • Jan. 16*, 2023, 6-8pm (*subject to change for federal holiday)
  • Jan. 23, 2023, 6-8pm

Winter General Membership Meeting (Location TBD and via Zoom)

  • Jan. 20, 2023

Next Bargaining Team Email Update

  • We’ll plan to send updates at least once a month. Watch your inbox in late January for more bargaining news.