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Connecting with members

Your strategy and action plan are drafted. Now you need some tools to do the job.

The first set of tools involves ways to reach out and connect with members. Members are the campaign. Without membership support, leaders are frustrated and the union cant act as a unified group.

A good communications network raises the unions profile. It says members are organized and ready to fight smart no matter what the issue. It sends a signal to management as well.

Think about using more than one tool to ensure you reach different members. Use the tools best suited to your workplace. Here are some pointers for each tool:


  • Have something new to say.
  • Advertise the issue.
  • Keep on track.
  • Make meetings shorter.
  • Try lunch hours or alternative times.
  • Choose convenient location, e.g. at worksite, by department.
  • Arrange for interesting guest speakers.
  • Encourage listeners to speak and talkers to listen.
  • Consider childcare.
  • Always post meeting minutes on the union bulletin board.


  • Get out and talk with members.
  • Identify natural leaders and keep them informed.
  • Have a way for individual members to reach the union.
  • Offer union office hours.
  • Practise good listening skills.
  • Show you care with personal attention.
  • Act quickly to deal with members concerns.
  • Make sure the atmosphere is inviting.
  • Prepare a kit of union material to welcome new members.

Raise your unions profile

  • Lead by example.
  • Toot your own horn and self-promote your locals members and their successes.
  • Be ready with positive alternatives to managements agenda.
  • Build confidence. Get the answers and results out to members.
  • Develop a positive image with community involvement.
  • Use the bulletin board and make it more appealing.
  • Distribute union promotional materials (e.g., pins, posters, etc.).
  • Set up union suggestion boxes in visible locations.
  • Have a steward in the mailroom or switchboard to reach people.

Support activism

  • Reach out to new members, young members and members from different backgrounds.
  • Invite observers to grievance and other meetings to learn.
  • Delegate small duties to make people feel more involved.
  • Offer education opportunities.
  • Offer per diems and cover child care costs.
  • Involve people in committees such as EAP (Employee Assistance Program).
  • Recognize members work in the community.

Be creative

  • Sponsor a free lunch.
  • Offer union videos for members to watch at home.
  • Start 50/50 draws.
  • Organize a free social event.
  • Use banquets, dinners or dances to get together.
  • Organize free speech sessions on controversial topics.
  • Offer small prizes for trivia questions based on collective agreement.
  • Print a T-shirt with your locals logo.
  • Use freebies to grab attention.
  • Start a community radio or cable show.


  • Set up phone trees (each member phones two or three others, who then phone others. themselves, etc., until the whole membership is covered).
  • Set up a fax tree (same as the phone tree).
  • Use group voice mail (check with your phone service provider for details).
  • Set up a local union hotline for messages larger locals may need a toll-free number.
  • Prepare scripts for phone messages; have multilingual members voice them.
  • Create an e-mail list of union members. Put up a web site for your local.
  • Identify natural leaders from different backgrounds and work sites.
  • Create a Communicator/1 in 10 network.