By Mark Young | AFGE Local 1509
Before we can be grassroots, we have to plant the seeds. Poor seed means poor growth, good seed means thick, lush meadows and bumper crops.
Our union message is the seed we plant. Plant a poor message, and we shouldn’t expect much to grow. But if we get the message right, we will get the bountiful harvest.
If we are going to be effective with legislative action, we can’t start with legislators. We start with members. We need to have members who are educated on the issues, who can speak with brains as well as hearts. We need to know the effects of legislation on our members and we need to show that benefits to unions will promote the national good. We also need to be able to drill down to tell legislators things they often don’t want to hear, about the effects of anti-union prejudice on real working people. We need to have our educated, powerful, and unified voices reach around those fingers in their ears.
Surely we know that carrying our message is not easy. So we need to be dedicated, and there is no better way to be dedicated than to know that we speak truth to power. Union members who have been around for decades need to set a knowledgeable example and be ready to inspire new members. Those who are new need to have confidence born from unity so they can find their voices and take action.
Use email, Facebook, Twitter. Write letters, make phone calls. Show up at legislative coffees and town halls and wear a union pin, a shirt, a jacket. Encourage our friends. Persuade the uncommitted. Keep speaking the truth to our antagonists. Never forget, we are the message. We are the seed. What we plant will grow. There is no more powerful message than our thousands speaking in a single voice, “We are together, hear us now!”