New Resource Empowers Members

The Member Action Center answers questions about grievances, contracts and much more at AFSCME Council 5.
The Member Action Center answers questions about grievances, contracts and much more at AFSCME Council 5.
The Member Action Center, or MAC, is staffed by field representatives who are streamlining the grievance/arbitration process, finding the answer to all sorts of questions for members, and organizing with leaders to build power and prepare us for a post-Janus world.
“There should never, ever be a time in our union when a member or fee payer can’t get a hold of someone during business hours,” says Council 5 state field arbitration director Tim Henderson. “Field reps get busy.  They’re in meetings, they’re visiting sites, they’re in negotiations. But members still have needs during all of that. Don’t worry – you can call the MAC. The field reps assigned will be able to help you and guide you, or get you in contact with your local leadership.”
All phone calls made to the main Council 5 numbers now go to the MAC. Members can call to track their grievance, learn details of their contract or local constitution, find out who their local leaders are and much more.
“The MAC team knows the nuts and bolts of this whole place,” Henderson says. If they can’t address a question, they know who to ask. They won’t close a case until the question has been answered. The average time to close a call? ASAP. 
“Most inquiries that come in are dealt with within that immediate day,” Henderson says. “They may get back to them now, it may be in 10 minutes, it may be the next day. It’s rare to have anything roll over to the next day:  Their responsibility is to get back to them.”
The MAC team already has helped eliminate a backlog of nearly 400 grievances, and shrink the turnaround time for a grievance from six to 12 months down to two months.
“It’s a very time consuming process,”  Henderson says.  “A local field rep can only do so much in a given day or week. That backlog caused anxiety and frustration with some of the locals and their leadership. Our members do not feel represented if they have inquiries that aren’t being answered or grievances not being served.
“Now we don’t have that, we have checks and balances on everything,” he adds. “It takes all of us working together to make sure it’s functional.”
The MAC isn’t designed to take over the job of the local union leadership, just to make those jobs easier and more efficient. Having the MAC team handle some steps of the grievance process frees field reps assigned to a local to spend more of their time serving, training and organizing. “The MAC is a resource. It’s just another tool,” Henderson says.
The MAC is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday so members get a live voice over the phone. Dial (651) 450-4990, (218) 722-0577, (320) 235-2344 or (800) 652-9791.