Member-to-Member Campaign

The Member-to-Member communication strategy is designed to draw on the power of our membership and win justice for all UWUA members and our families

The true source of our union’s power has always been our membership.

It is the skill and ability of UWUA members that makes our energy infrastructure work. It’s also our members’ commitment to justice and our personal activism that makes politicians and employers listen to us.

It is our goal to develop communication structures within each UWUA Michigan local union that provides regular meaningful two-way discussion with each and every member. The process starts by developing a communication system that works. Our objective is to have regular conversation with each and every member of our union.

Our conversations will focus on:

  • Providing education and information to each and every member regarding important workplace, industry, or community issues;
  • Soliciting the views, opinions and suggestions from our members; and
  • Asking our members to take personal action that supports stronger bargaining, resolving workplace grievances, addressing regulatory issues, and advancing an agenda for workers’ rights within our communities and nation.

The National UWUA believes in the power of our membership. This new communication strategy is designed to draw on that power and win justice for all UWUA members and our families.

Join Us in the Fightm2m-quote

The UWUA is taking a stand that may change the direction of politics in our nation. National Union President Mike Langford called on all union members:

“Join me in the fight to build worker power, build political power, and build the economic power we need to take back our country from those who seek to destroy it and the hard-working men and women who built it!”

This call to action comes in response to the passage of the “right-to-work” (for less) law signed by Michigan’s corporately owned Governor Rick Snyder. “‘Right-to-work’ legislation is a blatant attack on working families intended to weaken the strength we hold in unity and in numbers,” Langford pointed out. “Each and every one of us can expect far less in wages and benefits, with a weak voice in our workplace and at the bargaining table,” if the corporate legislative effort to undercut unions gains more ground.

Fighting Back To Protect Working Families

Union members have always been the source of power for unions. It’s the power of workers that makes the boss say “yes” and the politicians listen. At a time when technological advances and innovation should be leading American families to prosperity, the gap between the rich and poor in the United States is wider than at any time in the past 100 years. Contract negotiations have become increasingly more difficult, and political/economic policy has become a nightmare for working families.

At a time when technological advances and innovation should be leading American families to prosperity, the gap between the rich and poor in the United States is wider than at any time in the past 100 years.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Working families can and should be doing better. Following Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signing into Michigan law “right-to-work” (for less) legislation, the top officers of UWUA decided, “Enough is Enough!”

In January of 2013, the Union launched an innovative new initiative to organize, educate, motivate, and mobilize all UWUA members.

Internal Organizing in Michigan

On January 30, 2013, the 23 local unions comprising the MSUWC met to review the implications of “right-to-work” legislation. A few days later each of the divisions making up Local 223 did the same. Each group adopted the principles of establishing Member-to-Member Action Networks, and committed to utilizing existing steward systems and active local members to better engage each of their members.

Over the course of the next few months, meetings were held in Alpena, Holland, Traverse City, Port Huron, Monroe, and Bay City to support the development of Member-to-Member structures in each local – a total of 12 local unions participated. These combined efforts culminated in 36 of the 41 Michigan UWUA locals understanding the complexities of “right-to-work,” and having an organizational template to organize our membership for the fight back.

Our Democracy is at Stake

The Michigan attack on workers’ rights was not an isolated incident. Similar bills are advancing throughout the midwest and eastern states. Meanwhile, public employee bargaining rights are being gutted. The Supreme Court is threatening voting rights for people, while opening the floodgates of corporate money to fund the campaigns they like. Currently, legislators are monkeying with state Electoral College rules, so that district lines newly drawn by Tea Party types who won seats in 2010, can be used to tip the 2016 presidential election to the Republicans.

The Supreme Court is threatening voting rights for people, while opening the floodgates of corporate money to fund the campaigns they like.

With democracy itself at stake, the UWUA is taking dramatic steps.

Michigan’s UWUA locals took part in a conference call with the National Union on December 19. They committed to taking on the task of educating and discussing issues with every member and their families, including every retiree.

The goal is to encourage greater participation and personal activism throughout the union by developing communication structures within each local union to provide regular, meaningful two-way discussion with each and every member. This is how more setbacks like the Michigan mess can be headed off.

Studies have shown that the best form of communication isn’t e-mail, cell phone, or texting. It’s face-to-face, one-one, member-to-member encounters. This approach can build a strong connection inside the union, to lay the basis for longterm, effective work that the politicians’ scorched earth policy makes necessary.

Communication is Key

Studies have shown that the best form of communication isn’t e-mail, cell phone, or texting. It’s face-to-face, one-one, member-to-member encounters. This approach can build a strong connection inside the union, to lay the basis for longterm, effective work that the politicians’ scorched earth policy makes necessary.

Meetings at the end of January in Mt. Pleasant and Dearborn, MI, got the ball rolling. The facts were presented regarding the Snyder law – how it works, and its immediate effect on organizing and bargaining rights.

Members of Michigan locals discussed the need to improve internal communication in the union – including members’ complaints and misunderstandings. The membership needs to be aware, informed, and ready to roll.

This new action network links local leaders with all members through a member action coordinator in every union unit. The coordinator works with member action organizers. Each organizer, who can be a steward or an informal leader, is responsible for keeping in touch with five to 20 co-workers. Every union member is part of this network.

Information Engages Members

To support the goal of creating greater membership activism, it is imperative to better inform local leaders on issues important to working families. A better-informed membership will result in having a more motivated and engaged union.

Member-to-Member Action Network

How the Network is Set Up

At the local level, the program is directed by a union officer or their surrogate. This is the program controller, whose responsibilities include:

  • organizing structure
  • assigning tasks
  • identifying monthly topics for discussion/action
  • developing needed materials
  • distributing materials to action coordinators
  • evaluating program results regularly for the local and national, and
  • striving for continuous improvement.

Every local unit has a member action coordinator, who reports to the program controller. This role is tasked to the bargaining committee chairperson or a key local leader in worksites with 100 members or more.

The coordinator’s responsibilities are:

  • maintaining communication with all organizers
  • providing needed support for organizers
  • distributing materials
  • summarizing results, and
  • monitoring the program’s progress within the worksite.

The coordinator recruits member action organizers from stewards and activists in the local membership. The organizers are assigned the names of five to 20 members. Organizers maintain regular communication with these members. They have regular monthly 2-way discussions with each member on the hot issues facing the union. They distribute information received from the action coordinator, solicit member opinions, and ask for help on specific areas of work. The results are reported to the coordinator.

The true source of union power has always been the members. The skill and ability of UWUA members make the nation’s water, gas, and electric infrastructure work. In the same way, members’ commitment to justice, and active involvement, make politicians and employers stop and listen.

The National UWUA believes in this power. The new communication strategy is designed to focus that power to win justice for all UWUA members, their families and their communities.

Every member can expect to hear from their action organizer soon. This is an invitation to make history.

As We Move Forward

The UWUA of the 21st Century must be fundamentally different than the UWUA of the 20th Century. Moving forward, management and workers’ political adversaries will become even more aggressive in attempting to reverse many historical gains made by union members. Therefore, every opportunity must be taken to engage more members, their families, and UWUA retirees in the affairs of the union. Moving forward, every local is encouraged to utilize M2M Action Networks to:

1) Rebuild America: UWUA members see first-hand our deplorable, deteriorating infrastructure. As we identify infrastructure needs, it will be UWUA leaders and members who will ignite a public discussion to rebuild America – and keep the country strong in the 21st Century.

2) Current Leaders Mentoring New Leaders: Each UWUA leader should commit to personally mentoring at least 2 coworkers (younger members) to be active union leaders.

3) Young Workers Initiative: The key to the future are younger members. As workplace knowledge is transferred to develop a new generation of leaders, meaningful personal relationships among all members must be built, and the best use of available technology to have the best-informed membership possible must be utilized.

4) Retired Workers: As workers retire from their jobs – they never retire from the union. Each local union should dedicate resources to develop active retiree chapters that can become an extension of the local union and continue vital resources to be used in our fight for justice

5) Women’s Caucus: The workforce is becoming more diverse, and the UWUA embraces the opportunity to make sure “that a woman’s place is in her union.”

The ability to organize, inform, motivate, and mobilize members to action is the key to success. For the union to grow and win justice for members and their families, a historic level of member activism is needed. Having a strong and effective Member-to-Member program in each local union will be the key to future success.

Member-2-Member in Action

Mobilizing for fair contracts, Local 600 developed a M2M Action Network to support 2014 bargaining. Likewise, Locals 132, 483, and 522 included the M2M approach to gather important information and member support for contract negotiations, Public Utilities Commission rate cases, and a landmark outside contracting arbitration.

Local 223 blazed the trail of using new innovations and member engagement in earlier negotiations and internal member contract campaign. Building on that success, the local utilized member activism as a tool to win a contract extension in 2013.

Throughout the struggle to win fair contracts for all FirstEnergy workers and defend members during the historic Local 180 lockout, dozens of FirstEnergy workers were mobilized to participate in community demonstrations and workplace actions designed to send messages of solidarity.

Supporting Community Needs

Local 175 engaged in multiple food collection drives to help struggling families survive in Dayton, OH. In addition, the Young Workers Initiative Committee launched M2M based community campaigns in each UWUA region.

Political Action

UWUA members in Local 405 took M2M to a new level. Organizing UWUA members for the 2014 elections also included developing coalitions with Muskegon UAW and teacher union locals. Well over 100 community leaders joined with the leadership of Local 405 for the important Michigan election.

Internal Action

Local 1-2 developed a comprehensive neighborhood mapping strategy to reach out to 1-2 members to learn about workplace issues and recruit members to be more active in the local. The mapping strategy entailed identifying the location of each member’s home throughout the multi-state area. The member’s home is “pinned” and available on a mapping system that allows local leaders to conduct community meetings that are more convenient for members. In addition, the mapping provides invaluable assistance in identifying political action strategies.