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Meeting 1

Troy kept his word and we had lunch together to talk about our grievances and what we can, and are willing to, do about them.

Afterward, we agreed to meet once again in exactly two weeks. In the meantime we both pledged to educate ourselves about the process of building a union.

Evie has not responded to my last text message and I don't expect her to. The weasel.


"It's Not Going to Benefit Anything"

Yesterday was Casual Friday--which at the Law Offices of Dick C. Baxter is only twice a month--so lunch was going to be on the office.

Our lunch break is one hour long and people leave the office for one hour. They go sit in their cars, they go for walks around the business park, they drive to local eateries. Casual Friday disrupts this balance. Instead, lunch begins when our meals arrive into the office sometime in the middle of the day. Gradually, workers make their way to the lobby to find their meals. Some stay in the lobby, sitting on the sofas around a coffee table, and eat their meal and make polite, politically correct conversation. Others, including me, go back to our desks or take our lunches to the local park.

Often, though, a small group will form in the lobby to "socialize." But this atmosphere usually feels too stifling for me and so I retreat to my office or leave the office. My unwillingness to socialize in this environment, however, doesn't go unnoticed and is slightly frowned upon. During last Casual Friday, for example, when everyone was busy eating and chatting away--about nothing--I decided to take a later lunch to avoid the crowd.

When I stepped out of my office to get some water all eyes looked up at me and Setareh said, "Tanis, your lunch is right there!"

I replied, "Thank you but I'm eating later today."

Out of the corner of my eye I watched Leisha glare.

An important reason why I avoid the workplace crowd is because most of the time I can barely stomach Evie. She's a loudmouth, an attention whore, and she's prone to saying racist shit. For example, she conflates terrorists with Arabs, as if most terrorist acts in the United States were not carried out by White Supremacists. I don't want to be totally negative on Evie. As far as I can see, she's a good mother, but her modus operandi at work pretty much fits the negative description I just gave.

Another important reason why I've avoided the workplace crowd, especially more recently, is because of my resentment towards Evie, Leisha, and Troy for how they behaved back in December when I told a client that his case was not moving because we were overworked.

Yesterday, however, I was feeling like I was ready to move on from that. I was also feeling strong enough to challenge the conversation hegemony that Evie currently has over work group talk. Usually, workplace socializing ends up becoming some kind of Angie TV, with her telling stories while everybody else looks on entranced.

However, Evie being the loudmouth that she is, and not knowing her level of political astuteness, before I decided to join the crowd--which always features Angie TV--I texted Evie and said, "Hey Evie, it goes without saying that she should not talk about this while at work, especially in the presence of management."

She promptly replied, "I don't really think I'm into this idea. It's not going to benefit anything and I cannot afford to walk out or protest. I have bills to pay. I just don't see how it could possibly work in our favor. Plus, it involves fees and dues. Which means more money out of pocket. Maybe you should just have a meeting with Dick and share your displeasure."

So yeah, I didn't join the crowd at lunch.

And in response to Evie, I said, "We all have bills to pay. Paying bills is precisely one reason why forming a union makes sense. By engaging in collective bargaining we can negotiate a significant pay raise. Could you pay your bills on $15 per hour alone, without any help? In the case of a strike,  if we win--and there's no reason to think we do not have a chance--we can demand backpay. Collective bargaining leads to a contract where we can negotiate additional things from sick leave to vacation to health [insurance]. If we build a strong organization we change EVERYTHING and get justice for ourselves. And yes, dues are part of unions--to keep them strong--but we decide the amount and after a handsome wage increase, dues are more than affordable plus we can afford more things. So the idea that it is not going to "benefit anything" is narrow-minded. And going to Dick to express my displeasure? I have tried that before, and because I approached him alone, he easily brushed me off--like a nuisance."



Yesterday, some of my co-workers and I went out to happy hour.

Altogether it was Troy, Delmira, Justin, Absame and also Troy and Justin's girlfriends.

During the course of conversation, it came up that Dick changed the policy about sick leave. Last year, sick leave began with 3 days automatically at the beginning of the year. After that, they could accumulate based on the hours you worked, with a cap of 12 days.

However, California law also says that the boss can simply cap sick days at 3 days for the whole year--and that's just what he's done. To add insult to injury, he didn't even announce the change in policy.

My co-workers suggested that we ask to meet with Setareh--Dick's lieutenant--today, as a unit, to ask about this. Not ask for a reversal, just to ask for an acknowledgement.

To remind you, we the employees of the Law Offices of Dick C. Baxter have almost no benefits at all. We "have:" 5 paid holidays, no health or dental insurance, no pension, 5 days paid vacation per year, and now, only 3 days of paid sick leave per year.

I said to my co-workers, "Why don't we organize ourselves in a union and demand a fair contract with an increased wage and benefits?"

Some heads nodded--particularly Troy--but no one seconded the motion.

The subject disappeared again and we went back to talking about nothing.

After work I texted Evie and asked her how she was feeling about working for Dick C. Baxter right now, to which she replied, "Where did that come from?"

So I mentioned the new sick-leave policy. She acknowledged her anger about the situation so I suggested forming a union to her as well. She replied with, "I think a union is too far fetched."

I asked her why and she admitted that she really doesn't know anything about unions.

I offered to call her and share what I knew but she was putting her son to bed and suggested we talk today at work. I said okay, but we need to do it at lunch.

She insisted that there be more than two people present so I texted Troy and asked if he wanted to meet today to talk about the subject.

It's the next morning and Troy still has not replied.

But today, being Casual Friday, when management usually brings lunch to the office so some people don't leave the office at all for work turns out to not be a good day.

So I'm going to let Troy and Angie off the hook for today.