Find out what issues are important to your co-workers. You know what’s important to you, but find out what’s important to them. Is there a recurring theme? Ask questions and don’t assume you know the answers.
Co-workers will get involved if they believe their issues are at stake and they can really make a difference. Nobody comes to a meeting? Start smaller with 1:1 conversations or small group meetings. Try incorporating food or social activity and make it fun. Start with a smaller challenge to achieve a unity building victory.
If you don’t know an answer to a question, admit it—but find out the answer and get back to the person quickly. You’ll be respected for your involvement to member concerns.
It’s easy to take on tasks yourself, harder to organize others to take action. A good workplace activist gets as many people involved as possible doing as much as possible. But you need to ask. It’s not enough to bug people to be more active. You need to ask them to do specific assignments…until it becomes natural to take on more without being asked. Don’t push so hard though that your co-workers avoid you! Know when to stop and try another tactic.
Making people feel good about getting involved encourages them to stay involved and encourages other people to join them. Complaining about co-workers who “won’t do anything” doesn’t help. Management will attempt to make unionizing seem futile. You need to provide the hope that conditions can change.
By letting co-workers know early on the issues a union will fight for, you’re in a better position to take credit for improvements management will try to make during the campaign. “If we got a better health plan by just talking about the union, imagine what we can do with a contract in place.”
If a co-worker is treated unfairly, try to unite everyone to defend the person, even if he or she isn’t a union supporter. Maybe it’s time to start a petition or take some other kind of group action to show your employer you’re united. But don’t just complain—organize to act in a unified way.
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