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Building a Culture of Participation at Your Worksite

Building a Culture of Participation at Your Worksite

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Building a Culture of Participation at Your Worksite

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  1. Building a Culture of Participation at Your Worksite Building rep is a lonely job if members see you as the union and themselves as customers of things youprovide. We’d be a stronger union if more members saw themselves as unionists with a duty and obligation to stay informed and involved. In this workshop we will explore the psychology of participation and brainstorm ideas on how we might better engage, induct and activate members so that fewer of them see BTU as an insurance policy and more of them see it as a community of colleagues working together for the common good. Prepared for the 2012 BTU Building Rep Retreat

  2. A G E N D A • Share our impressions of the current culture in our worksites. • Tell our stories about our own histories of activism. • Analyze the psychology of participation. • Brainstorm ideas for building a stronger culture of participation in our worksites.

  3. Let’s start by pretending that BTU sought to amend its constitution by adding the following article . . .

  4. Duties and Obligations of Membership* The power of the union to achieve its objectives relies on an educated and active membership. All BTU members share basic duties and obligations of membership that include making good-faith efforts to attend union meetings and functions, to stay informed of union issues and events, to participate in union activities, to help build an effective union chapter at their worksites, and to vote in union governance elections and contract ratifications. Members also should consider seeking positions of leadership and/or responsibility commensurate with their experiences/abilities as these positions become available. • Intended only to stimulate discussion in this workshop. No such article is being proposed or even contemplated as an amendment to the actual BTU Constitution.

  5. How would your members react? Would they be . . . HOT:They would react favorably because they already tend to understand that involved membership is the union’s strength and thus generally act accordingly. WARM: They might react favorably but it would take some persuasion to about the value of an involved membership and more members setting an example by becoming more active in the union. COLD : They would react unfavorably since the idea that members have a duty and obligation to be involved in the union is so counter to their current perceptions/experiences. Let’s form into groups, based on how you answer.

  6. Discuss and Report: • Why did you assign this rating? What do you see, hear or experience that leads you to this conclusion? • What is it like to be a building rep in schools of this type? What is rewarding? Challenging? Frustrating?

  7. Now, let’s analyze “activism” by sharing our own stories . . . Briefly share with your partner: • How did you first become active in BTU? • What keeps you active? As you listen to your partner, summarize in just a word or a short phrase the answer to #1 on the YELLOW Post-It and the answer to #2 on the ORANGE Post-It. You will be given instructions on where to post these.

  8. Our challenge . . . ENTHUSIASM: Unless we build it, we cannot build participation. Level of enthusiasm is influenced by union environment, our organizational culture, our leadership, our relevance to what people care about, etc. INVOLVEMENT: Important to translate enthusiasm into actual behavior on the part of members and potential members in order to further develop relationships and personal experiences that lead to . . . COMMITMENT: True membership commitment to the union (as expressed by participation) is what builds our power. 8

  9. “The Lifecycle of a Unionist” ENGAGEMENT Person is given reason to become interested in/pay attention to the union.. I ACTIVATION / RECRUITMENT & RETENTION Person begins voluntary action in support of the union Person joins and remains a member. I INDUCTION Member is oriented to union/comes to know its history, structure, values, etc. I CONTINUAL ACTIVATION Member continues voluntary action in support of the union. I SECONDARY LEADERSHIP Member assumes a formal leadership role. (Building site team, committee and task force work, etc.) I PRIMARY LEADERSHIP Member advances to highest levels of union leadership. (Site rep, area or program coordinator, union officer, etc.)

  10. Transactional vs. TransformationalOrganizing and Unionism Rational Benefits, services Passive Marketing, sales Talking, selling Event Union is protection Members join the union Customer • Psychological • Issues • Active • Relationship, experience • Listening, connecting • Ongoing activity • Union is power • Members take a stand! • Unionist

  11. And now, the parable of the push pin . . . A story about one building rep applied the principles of transformational unionism in a very simple, yet significant, way.

  12. 6 ingredients for building a culture of participation: • Deliberate efforts to engage personally with members (especially new ones), to induct them as members and to constantly educate on the issues. (Transformational vs. Transactional Unionism) • Visibility and regular two-way communication at the worksite. (“BTU lives here!”) • “Things for people to do in order to get people doing things.” (Variety/range of involvement opportunities.)

  13. 6 ingredients (continued): • Identification of and advocacy around worksite-specific issues (These do not have to be contractual!) • One-on-one asking in personas primary means for engaging and moving members to action! • So you don’t have to do it alone: The organization of a leadership team of respected activists who can move others through their leadership/relationships. Comments? Questions?

  14. FINAL ACTIVITYDiscuss and Report: In your group, brainstorm at least five things you can begin doing to better build a culture of participation in your worksites. Try to be a specific as possible.