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You Have to Get out There and Talk to the Members

Politicians be aware and mindful that your cold shoulder is noticed

Kris LaGrange's picture
Sep 29, 2017

Raise your hand if you have ever been to a union rally. I bet most of you reading this have and if you haven't, you may live a sheltered and extremely privileged life. Every now and then, union families and their allies need to get out there and flex some muscle, let your targets know you are more than just mouth pieces; you are a force for change, an activist organization armed with the weapon of withholding your labor to make change. 

Some who have this power don't realize they have it and those who do realize are very careful as to when they use it. Public employees in New York handed in their weapon of the strike back in 1967 in exchange for contract recognition during extended prolonged surface bargaining. It took them 50 years to realize that was probably a big mistake. Bargaining in the public sector is becoming more difficult, with both Republicans and Neo-Dems battling labor every chance they get by balancing budgets on their backs in the fear of asking for tiny little tax increases.

To fight back, you withhold endorsements, votes and well... you get your asses out there and show them that you are a mobilized force for change. If you don't do this, you lose. If you mobilize, you win. It's that simple. So, when organized labor gets together to assemble peacefully and address a grievance, elected officials will come out of the woodwork to jump on stage and say, "I am your champion, hear me roar."  

Truth is, most of the time they are not what they claim to be. How many times have union leaders asked politicians to intervene in their contract battle or work stoppage only to be told that they couldn't move the CEO for a multitude of lame excuses? It sucks I know, but at least they tried and your union's political coordinator gets to see another day.

What sucks, even more, is when politicians are at these rallies and are given the opportunity to speak, they leave right after they are done. They don't get out in the crowd, and meet the men and women involved in the struggle; they grandstand but rarely gland hand, and the membership notices this. We can't stop asking politicians to attend our events, they are just one spoke in the wheels of progress and change.

Maybe what we should do, is instead of giving them a megaphone, give them escorts of Shop Stewards, walk them around, have them meet the men and women fresh off the job in their PPE's and dusty work boots and hear their stories. It may inspire the elected to work harder when advocating on your union's behalf so the next time they come back empty handed, the imagery in their head of who they let down is not the suit and tie political coordinator who feeds them endorsements, but that working man or woman who said, "Can you help us? This strike is really hurting my family."

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