June 28, 2022
On June 21st, facilitators from the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute and NC A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) held an online training to give union activists a chance to practice and polish their organizing skills, starting with having the conversations that will be essential to a successful Labor 2022 member-to-member political education program this year.
To begin, attendees were asked to name common worries and recurring problems at the average workplace. Respondents described their ongoing experiences of disrespect, replaceability, and under-appreciation at work. Bosses didn’t care about them and the company didn’t respect their work or their time, they said. When asked about ways to address these issues, people felt as if the decision to stay silent, leave, or make complaints were all traps. Leaving the company held the risk of finding the same pervasive issues upon getting a new job, and complaints are often ignored when a worker tries alone to speak their mind about feeling unvalued. Organizing Institute Senior Trainer, T.J. Marsallo, expanded on this by laying out a careful distinction between union and non-union workplaces: while both unionized and non-unionized workers deal with managerial disrespect, only unions can give working people the tools and resources to deal with it as equals with management.
Facilitators then acted out a scenario between an organizer and coworker, demonstrating the kind of personal connections that activists need to make when pushing for unionization or building support for political action. Once they had an example to work from, attendees split up into breakout rooms and practiced in small groups having everyday, one-on-one conversations about the issues that are important to them. The AFL-CIO’s Union Member Issue Survey was shared within the groups.
Wrapping up the training, Marsallo concluded that spreading awareness about the need for workplace organizing was a key task for union activists. Unions provide people the tools to secure respect for hard work and to change the unfair conditions of work and fix this broken economy.
For more information, contact NC State AFL-CIO Organizing and Mobilization Coordinator, Catherine Walton-Ward, at firstname.lastname@example.org.