In many local unions its often the busy executive or shop stewards who distribute union materials to the general membership. While this may work for some, even a good distribution system is not a communications network.
The CUPE Communicator/1-in-10 network is set up to get people talking to people, not just shuffling paper. It should be a goal for all locals because, quite simply, it works.
Member communicators take on the job of communicating with 10 other members in their direct contact area. Communicators are expected to introduce themselves to their member groups.
They are then responsible for talking about and circulating (or collecting) any materials channelled through them by the locals executive. Communicators are not expected to have answers to members questions or handle grievance issues. They simply are a channel for questions or answers and verbal or written union information. It takes only a few minutes to give something to 10 people in a Communicators immediate work area, but once this system is up and running, youll wonder how you managed without it.
There are two advantages to this system. The first is that it is the fastest way to distribute information and guarantee it is read by everyone crucial if an important decision needs to be made. The second is that it ensures the union is always visible to all the members and, when it works well, provides a two-way flow of information: the executive to the membership through communicators; with communicators telling the executive what the membership thinks.
Here are steps to set up your CUPE Communicator 1/10 network:
- Draft a map of where members are located within your union local.
- Within each area, divide members into groups of 10 persons.
- Look for a person within each group to act as a CUPE Communicator.
- Ensure Communicators are drawn from all departments/areas and are representative of the workplace.
- The member Communicator should be able to make conversation easily and be interested in union affairs.
- Once Communicators are assigned for each area, talk with them and ensure they know what to do.
- Clearly define the Communicators role as simply a two-way channel for information.
- Make sure Communicators understand their role is not to answer complicated questions or grievance issues but to refer them to a steward or executive for action.
- Let all members know the network exists and how it will operate.
- Distribute buttons to help Communicators make themselves visible and easily identified.
- Meet with Communicators regularly to resolve difficulties and act on suggestions.</ol