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How to get what you want

Good campaigns have a strategy and action plan focused on achievable goals. Make sure someone is assigned to take notes so youll have an action plan when youve finished strategizing. Thats a fancy term for figuring out where you want to go and how youre going to get there. The following sections outline the steps to take.

Strategic planning isnt complicated. Our kids do it when theyre figuring out how to stay up beyond their bedtime. We do it when we ask someone out on a date. We prepare for the worst if were pulled over for a speeding ticket and want to get out of it. Strategic planning is anticipating problems, figuring out how to overcome them and getting what we want. Everyone has the skill to plan strategically. But the steps below will help you do it with success.

Identify the issue

The first step at your strategic planning meeting is to clearly state the situation. It could be a privatization threat or a health and safety problem that is endangering both members and the public. It could be a cutback in members hours that will mean a cut in public services.

Look for real workplace issues that you can build a campaign around. Since good communication is always useful, try out your strategies and thoughts on smaller things maybe getting people to run for a spot on the executive or become a shop steward before you need communications to save jobs.

How do members see it?

A good communications plan includes speaking to members with differing experiences and opinions: women and men; newcomers and veterans; part-time and full-time. Knowing how your members feel about the issue helps determine a strategy that pulls the local together, not apart. Many locals are made up of diverse memberships with differing racial and cultural backgrounds and language needs, so make sure you reflect the diversity of your membership in the opinions you seek. Members need to see themselves in any campaign for it to work.

Getting the facts

If youre dealing with a major issue, you need to do some research. Depending on the issue, background information may be available from CUPEs web site or from the Research, Equality, Health and Safety or Legal branches. Ask your rep for assistance in how to access these resources.

You will also want to dig around yourselves for hard facts to support your cause. These do not have to be long research documents. They can be as simple as knowing how your local councillor or trustee voted on a certain issue or the amount of funding your public service receives. They can, of course, be more in-depth and include things such as research briefs, polls or surveys. If your issue has already received media coverage, go back through the newspapers and see if there are any people who may have information you can use.

Again, depending on your sector, regularly attending meetings of your board or municipal council can be immensely valuable.

There are two important things to remember about facts, though.

The first is that facts must back up your case but if youre going to the public, you need a human face for any campaign. People care about people and the stories they remember are ones that involve people. Your campaign must be about people first, with the facts used to support your case.

The second is that you should resist the urge to preach with facts. You are right. But let the facts speak for themselves without beating your audience over the head with them.

Solutions and campaign goals

In your strategy session, you need to identify the goal or solution to the issue. What is it you want to achieve? What will resolve the situation?

Be realistic when setting goals. Simply raising public awareness of members work can be your goal. Getting more people to run for your local executive can be, too. Set a short-term as well as a longer-term goal. Success is easier to achieve in small workable steps.

For example, in the short term you want to stop or minimize the impact of cutbacks or layoffs. In the long run, you want to strengthen your collective agreement language. In each case, you need both membership and public support.