Grounding in Leadership

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I remember years back, upon accepting the responsibilities in the union, I was asked. “Are you sure? Are you willing to put up with the difficult? Are you prepared to lose your job?”

I said Yes, but actually, deep in my heart, all I knew was that there were not too many who were willing to stand up for me at that time. Many were afraid to even fight for themselves.

And so I fought with a few others for the rights and benefits to be upheld. We were assigned as members of the negotiating panels. Boy, it was tough. Each provision took a while to be approved. There were heated exchanges, table banging, BPs rising and roaring voices, all guards were up. I realized boy, I am no longer fighting only for myself.

I was the lone woman at the beginning.  In the second CBA, I was with courageous and brilliant women this time with fewer men who were also principled. Greater benefits were won. Salaries have improved and so are the benefits that were provided even beyond death, illness, and retirement.

Negotiations were still tough but nothing was tougher than being left alone in the cold.  The majority must always be served and for the common good. Being an officer, I had to be more circumspect. I can no longer take be me and be reckless with my thoughts and words.  Legal technicalities had to be observed. Every detail must be studied, that’s part of the duty. Some hurled insults, we all knew we had to take the high ground.

In those two rounds of CBA, that’s about 10 years, all in all, I learned so much not on how to argue but to be silent, or else I would just blurt out things or take actions that may be unbecoming not just for me but for the entire organization.

Our legal adviser taught us well. He pushed us to be logical, to be quick and to own up to our duties and responsibilities. We cannot be officers without knowledge of what we got ourselves into. Without knowledge of what the law prescribes. Without knowledge on how to fight for others especially during grievance. Best of all, he taught us to fight in accordance with the law. To argue when necessary and best of all, to suffer if we must if only to protect the members of the Union through the CBA. And to disallow not even a single provision to be violated so it will not create ripples of repeated violations.

Not everyone will understand until they will all be in that difficult position of being expected to protect the rights and advance the benefit of others.

Although some struggles are still present, I am glad I am no longer an officer for I have just realized it took so much of my time and energy. Some had to call even in the middle of the night to seek help and counseling when aggrieved. Committee meetings also took so much time.  There was no time for socialization. Some thought it was our job to create activities for everyone to gather and party. Work was piling up and we had no time for so much of that. These, apart from our main job. And because an officer has to stand up and take a stance, one takes the risk of being judged and despised.

I had no idea it was going to be so tough. I just knew I need to step up.

Sometimes I wished things were a bit better. But while I aspired for change, my experience with the union changed me. It allowed me to learn to choose my battle and to never expect goodness just because I did well. I can only hope that whatever good that was given, it may make a ripple for others to feel better and to share whatever is good when they are given that opportunity.

Leadership, I realized is all about taking charge not of others, but of the self. And how we cannot always take the privilege of being our own selves when so much is at stake and so many can get affected.

Leadership is a responsibility of being at least tolerable and tolerant. –Melba Irene Gabuya/ NewsLine

 

 

 

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