Don't Stop Building Union Power!

Anna Smith

July 13, 2022

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(This article first appeared in the July/August 2022 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

As I write this article, we have just hit the target of recruiting 5,000 new members for our Building Union Power organizing drive.

I want to thank every member and officer who made Building Union Power a success. Remember that WE are the union. We cannot grow without everyone pitching in.

Each time we welcome someone into our union family and get them active, it makes us stronger. Speaking up with one voice makes us more powerful locally and nationally.

Let’s keep up the momentum

Building Union Power was the start of our work to grow our membership, not the end. Let’s keep up the work recruiting new employees and talking with nonmembers about why they should join us.

We can all learn and improve our organizing, so here are a few practical tips for you.

1. Map your workplace

A great way to start out a campaign is to map your workplace. Every local president has a list of non-members. That’s the place to start. Map out their work locations and their tours. Plan who will talk to them. Who are their friends? That’s who they will likely to listen to.

Once you know where and when the non-members are working, it’s time to do assessments. I use a 1-4 scale to help figure out who to talk to first and how.

Organizers usually give a 1 to a really hot contact – someone who is very supportive and just needs a chance to sign up. A 2 is someone who is basically supportive but needs a conversation to close the deal.

A 3 is undecided. Maybe no one asked them to join; perhaps they’re not anti-union but they had a bad experience; maybe they just don’t know what they think. Lastly a 4 is anti-union.

Using an assessment scale helps you focus your energy on the most important targets. You can quickly move through the 1s and 2s. Then work on the 3s with an organizing conversation. Talk to your 4s, but don’t waste too much time.

2. Have an organizing conversation

The aim of an organizing conversation is to help the non-member see why the union is the solution to their workplace problems.

Ask them about a workplace issue. Reflect back what they are saying. Let them know it doesn’t have to be that way.

The next step in the conversation is identifying who caused the problem. For example, if management is causing a hostile work environment, name it!

Show how the union is the solution! It’s the only way we ever got better pay, our benefi ts and our rights in the workplace. How can we use our collective power in the union to solve their problems?

Lastly, call the question! Assume agreement and go ahead! “If we we’re going to solve that problem, we need everyone to speak up as part of the union, right?” “Right!” “So, will you join APWU now?”

3. Make building union power a part of your local’s work

There’s a lot for us to do. If it’s not someone’s responsibility, it won’t get done. Do you have a local offi cer in charge of the organizing work? Do you get membership reports at union meetings? If you don’t make it a priority, it’s probably not happening.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Whether you’re a member who wants your local to do more or a local offi cer, steward or activist who needs support to make it happen, you can always ask for help.

There are resources available for you at Start with your local offi cers. Then your NBAs and the Organization Department can help make your local’s union-building work a success.

This is everyone’s job

It’s up to all of us to keep the momentum up. 5,000 new members is just the start. Let’s work together to build a stronger union – it’s how we keep fi ghting for good jobs now and far into the future.

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