I could have left work early today, but I wanted to stay until the vote was counted for the ratification of our contract. Not that I was physically needed to do so, but it was a way for me to feel real closure over union negotiations.
OK, first the statistics (since Feb. 1, 2011):
Official negotiating hours—72.75 hours
Meetings to prepare for negotiating—27.5 hours
Subcommittee work: 8 hours
Union membership meetings—7.5 hours
Union Executive Board meetings—12 hours
Total: 127.75 hours…. about an extra 16 work days, more than 3 weeks of work (in addition to a full time job).
Now, the reason this post is shown with thumbs up and thumbs down is that in the beginning of our negotiations, on an early agreement (concerning meeting dates, I think) the facilitator had us all put our thumbs up if we were in agreement. I shared that actually it is not clear that thumbs up was a positive gesture to the ancient romans. In fact Pliny in his Historie of the World in the first century CE, translated into English in 1601 by Philemon Holland, is quoted as saying, “to bend or bow down the thumbs when we give assent unto a thing, or do favour any person, is so usuall, that it is growne into a proverbial speech, to bid a man put down his thumb in token of approbation” (second chapter of the 28th book). Pliny clearly believed that thumbs down meant “yes.” So for the rest of negotiations, whenever we reached a TA (tentative agreement), we all put our thumbs down to show approval.
So whether you are a thumbs up or a thumbs down person, the contract was approved today. And to be honest, it was worth all the effort and energy, focus and time it took to get it resolved.