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Labor Relations Representative, California School Employees Association

J Travers Devine

Tell us about your work---what do you do? I negotiate contracts for bargaining units of School employees with various School Districts, process grievances , represent employees in disciplinary actions including Appeal Hearing before Boards of Education and Personnel Commissions. I also prepare and present Union position in Unfair Labor Practice cases and arbitrations , recruit and train beginning union members so that they will become future leaders of their local union chapters. What skills are needed? You need to have tact , diplomacy , the ability to think logically and persuasively. You also need excellent written and oral communication skills. What was your major? Political Science How did you get started in your career? Working political (initiative) campaigns for Labor Unions in Los Angeles County elections. What experience do you need in this job? Empathy and understanding human nature are more important than experience -- knowledge of collective bargaining laws and principals of both adversarial and collaborative bargaining techniques -- any organizational experience with volunteer and/or non-profit groups would be helpful. Describe your "typical" workday: Phone call, e-mails in the morning followed by grievance or negotiations meetings in two or more School Districts followed in the evening by Union Chapter meeting or Personnel Commission or School Board meeting followed by late night telephone calls. What is the hardest aspect of your job? There are two very hard parts. One involves representing employees who have the right to be represented under the law to the best of my ability even though they do not deserve to win their cases (a small percentage of the work force that use and abuse the system) and the second is the inability to help some employees who deserve help but whose situation does not fit into a viable solution. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? Assisting working people to better wages and working conditions through contract negotiations and successfully representing deserving employees in grievance/disciplinary actions. What are your suggestions for someone considering this field? Only work for a union if you place more value on your heart than on your wallet.