I am having the most amazing workweek. Not only am I seeing Terry, one of my stewards in the valet department, organize members & other leaders in his department, but I’m seeing him grow as a real leader. I always knew he was a fighter but as he once told me, there’s a difference between strategy and tactic. Today, I’m seeing him understand the difference firsthand. We spoke on the phone and he told me his management pulled him aside to discuss and work on a departmental issue with him.
To make you understand how monumental this is, I have to provide some back story. In the past, I’ve always gotten the feeling that Terry felt like his manager Alex didn’t give Terry the respect he and other people in the department deserved. We used to have hour long debates/fights/discussions about how to fight this and sometimes, whether we should even try because there were times when he didn’t feel like management would ever change.
He still held some vestige of this as recently as last Thursday. Tim, my other shop steward, told Terry about how excited Tim was to find success in tackling issues in the bar department. Terry expressed he didn’t believe valet management would work with him on their issues. Last night, he find out otherwise. Management pulled him aside to try to settle issues with him before the department started doing delegations and taking a hard line with the company. They recognized Terry as a leader and for the first time, Alex spoke to Terry with the respect he deserved. It’s amazing to see Terry finally have a win after he fought and persevered in a department with coworkers that didn’t always support him.
At first when Terry said that he would take a step back from here on out, I was puzzled. “Why?,” I asked. He explained that he recognizes the company takes a personal issue with him and doesn’t want to lead the upcoming meeting because personal feelings on the company’s end may jeopardize a resolution. He thinks that this victory will motivate other leaders in his department to step up when they realize that they did this. Not the company, not Terry, not the union organizers. The valets made it happen because they were united and put pressure on the company. He realizes that people will still come to him because new leaders will look to him for help when a fight gets tough but that this win will allow him to empower and work through other leaders. This is his hope and has always been mine.
For me, this is where the real growth happened. Like I said earlier, Terry has always been a fighter. Even to a fault. But it takes real maturity as a leader to put your peoples’ issue above your own feelings. I’m not naive enough to believe that things will be a cakewalk for him and his department from here on out, but this is a huge milestone. After having been terminated, brought back and fighting with this company for a year and a half, Terry has finally come into his own. He understands what a union is, how much power he has, how much power they have when they’re united, how to fight, and that hard fights ARE won.
what HAVEN’T i been eating lately?