Saturday, April 11, 2015

Our Vision for Change

I have been working with Jan Hochadel a lot lately and she will often say, "we must build a Union Movement we can be proud of."

Our leadership team has put together four principles and goals which will guide us as we work to build the kind of union and movement our members need and can be proud of.  They are: Membership First, Communication and Collaboration, Transparency, and Organization.
I would like to take the time to examine each of them.

Membership First
The words in italics are from AFT- CT: Our Vision for Change
The power of the union is in its collective voice. The job of leadership is to understand the needs and concerns of the members, to help them address those concerns, and when needed, facilitate collective action.
Leadership must be in contact and connected with the presidents of the locals, the executive boards, and the members.
Getting out of the office in Rocky Hill and visiting with the locals needs to be an ongoing thing. We cannot assume we understand how members feel, we must be listening to them. We cannot say to them "we got this," we must actually "get it" from them.
That is why we knock on doors during an organizing drive or a voting drive.  We go to where the members are, we listen to them, we learn from them, because it is about them. Consensus is built from the ground up, not from the top down.
This lesson was learned at L&M. The local presidents Harry, Lisa, and Stephanie showed real leadership by engaging their members. They did not have to seek politicians, because politicians sought them.
Back in my days of building airplanes, my boss liked to tell me, "We like the work you do. We'd like to see you do even more of it."
I enjoy conversations. I loved my days of organizing at Backus, of visiting with members in their living rooms, of sharing their hopes and dreams. I am excited about the prospect of doing even more, meeting even more members and finding the ways we can work together to build a bigger and better union.  I know it is not easy work, even if you love it.  It means long car rides and even longer hours but If we are to make our “Members First” principle a reality then we must really know our members and you just can’t do that over the phone or through email and certainly not by just sending them a newsletter.

“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone's house and eat with him... the people who give you their food give you their heart.”  
 César Chávez

We must always put members first, if not, why are we doing this?

To do that, we must feel what they feel, understand life as they understand it.
If we do, they will give their hearts to the Labor Movement, because it will be a Movement they can be proud of.

No comments: