"It takes a committed individual with a passion for what's right to be a site representative. These are volunteers who are to be commended for their service to fellow co-workers in the pursuit of a decent, fair, and thriving work environment." - CSLEA President Alan Barcelona
On September 6, 2014, California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) attorneys will again hold a class for CLSEA members interested in becoming a site representative at their office or workplace.
"If there is no union representation in the office and you believe a supervisor or management is violating the contract, then you might want to volunteer to be the representative at that office," said CSLEA Attorney Erin Eckelman. "There are many reasons to be a site rep, but usually someone steps up to the plate because they are not intimidated by supervision and recognize that there needs to be a voice on behalf of our members."
CSLEA trained and appointed site reps become the eyes and ears of CSLEA. In order to address problems in the workplace, CSLEA must be informed. Site representatives monitor the workplace for contract violations or other working condition issues and bring such problems to CSLEA's attention.
"An employee who is not a site rep and brings up an issue with a supervisor might possibly be viewed as insubordinate," said Francine Toth, CSLEA Site Representative Committee Chairperson and Unit-B Vice President. "But an employee who is a site rep can feel confident about addressing issues with a supervisor because they are CSLEA trained and appointed. It is their role and accepted by management as such."
CSLEA site representatives become the heartbeat of communication between CSLEA and CSLEA membership.
"Not every member feels comfortable calling us," said CSLEA Senior Attorney Andrea Perez. "We are here for our members and we are just a phone call away, but some members still hesitate. A site rep has met us, been trained by us, and knows when to place that phone call."
Site representatives understand the benefits of CSLEA membership and reach out to fellow Unit-7 bargaining unit employees to confirm they are members. They understand the perils of being a fair share fee payer or objector. Site representatives also disseminate CSLEA information, newsletters, and flyers.
"Our CSLEA site reps protect members from wrongful acts by employers," said CSLEA Senior Attorney Ryan Navarre. "They are our conduit to the workplace."
"Site reps assist members in drafting rebuttals, identifying grievances and they are not afraid to tell a member that they deserve to be written up, if that's the case," said Eckelman.
One of our many site reps is Dennis Maffei, an investigator with the California State Lottery and a board member of the California Association of Criminal Investigators (CACI), a CSLEA affiliate. Maffei volunteered to become a site rep two years ago. "I guess it goes back to my father's background, he was a union man," said Maffei. While working as a San Francisco police officer, Maffei realized how important it was to have a labor association on his side. "What a difference it has made in my life, my pension, everything I have, a labor association got it. There's some sacrifice to being a site rep, but it's important to keep people informed about the issues they are facing. "
Gina Walls, a CHP Public Safety Dispatcher, a board member of CHP-Public Safety Dispatchers Association, (an affiliate of CSLEA) and CSLEA member has been a CSLEA site rep for 10 years. "Being a site rep is a very important job," said Walls. " It does not just involve contract violations; but policy violations by the department. The Site representative also serves as a liaison between the rank-and-file and management. We bring the concerns of the rank-and-file to management's attention and work on a compromise for change. Some of the concerns include scheduling, breaks, and departmental policy changes that affect our working conditions."
Walls knows of the important role of being the eyes, the ears and the voice and reporting necessary information to CSLEA attorneys. "Especially if it violates the contract or even the department's policy," said Walls. "The site reps usually start a grievance or complaint and then forward it to CSLEA for further review and processing. Being a site representative is sometimes a thankless job, but when you can help your coworkers and make a positive change in your working conditions this is very rewarding."
"To all of our CSLEA site representatives, thank you for your time, energy and devotion," said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona. "To those who may be interested in becoming a CSLEA site representative, please don't hesitate to call us."