- Does your local have a committee to address privatization?
- Has your local clearly identified the issue?
- Has the broader membership been consulted to see how they see the issue?
- Does your local have all of the facts on this issue?
- Has your local set goals and priorities for the campaign?
- Has your local identified the audience for the campaign?
- Has your local developed a timeframe for the campaign?
- Are there any campaign events planned?
- Is there a plan on how to update the membership on the campaign’s progress?
- How does your campaign plan on gaining publicity?
- Has a budget been drawn up for your local’s campaign? How will it be financed?
- Is there a process for on-going evaluation?
For more information:
Many large locals have committees to address specific privatization issues such as contracting out and water privatization. Another possible way of addressing these problems, which might be more feasible for smaller and mid sized locals is to establish a Public Works committee. A Public Works committee could address but certainly not be limited to the following:
- Monitor the employer to ensure that they are not contemplating privatization (e.g. checking minutes, attending public meetings etc…). See Stopping Privatization Before it Starts.
- Propose contract language on privatization to the bargaining committee. See Bargaining Protection Against Privatization.
- Develop contracting in proposals for work that is presently contracted out that could be done more efficiently (cost and /or quality of service) by bargaining unit members.
- Mobilize resistance in the local to any current or proposed privatization from the employer.
- Act in solidarity with other locals and coalitions to oppose privatization in the workplace and in the community.
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.
A good strategic 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.
If you’re dealing with a major issue, you need to do some research. Depending on the issue, background information may be available from CUPE’s web site or from the Research, Equality, Health and Safety or Legal branches. Ask your National servicing representative 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 you’re 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.
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.
Develop a list of existing or potential coalition groups and key decision makers (e.g. politicians). Identify potential allies, such as other like-minded community groups and users of your members services.
Set an overall timeframe for your campaign and look for appropriate peaks in activity. Whether your goal is to sway opinion for an upcoming council vote or stop a pending hospital closure, plan your actions leading up to decision day. Look for openings to communicate your message, such as a visit by the provincial health care minister. If you’re dealing with a board or municipal council, you might want to use their meeting as a focal point since the media are likely to be there.
To launch your campaign, you will probably want to focus on a central action. This could be some kind of public event, such as a demonstration or information picket. It may be a longer-term effort, such as a petition or card collection. Ask yourselves what would draw attention to your issue and win support from your target groups.
To ensure your members’ support, you will need to keep them informed throughout the campaign. How you do this may best be determined by your local union’s structure.
It could be as simple as a notice prominently displayed on the local’s bulletin board or in the lunchroom. Sometimes using e-mail or group voice mail is best, depending on how your workplace is structured. Other locals may communicate best by bulletin updates faxed to members, using the Internet or developing a CUPE Communicator/1 in 10 contact system. See Communicating CUPE: Connecting With Members.
If you aren’t publishing a regular union newsletter, this is your chance to start one. Consider issuing a special campaign bulletin separately or as an insert in your newsletter. (Remember a newsletter doesn’t have to be huge. Many locals have only one-page newsletters and they work very well.) If many of your membership have access to the Internet, either at work or at home, you might want to consider a web site. For some locals, it may actually be a more cost-effective solution than paying for photocopying and printing. (It doesn’t have to be complex or have a dazzling design. Make it simple and easy to update so you can keep it up with a minimum of fuss.)
To reach your public audiences, you will want to engage in one or more activities. These could include leafleting, lobbying, petitions, mall displays, coalition building, information pickets, cultural events, political action, etc. Some members have created web sites or used the Internet to fax letters directly to political targets. Never forget – any bit of publicity helps. A letter to the editor of your local paper doesn’t take long to write, but helps get out information. See Communicating CUPE.
It’s important to state that a campaign does not have to be expensive to be effective. In fact, many successful campaigns are virtually free. No amount of money replaces hard work and commitment from members and the best way to guarantee success is to get as many members involved in a campaign as possible.
That said, some campaigns do cost money. If you are spending, it’s important to list your campaign materials, quantities, costs and deadlines. Call your local unionized printer for estimates. Contact your local Internet provider and find out about getting a web site hosted. Get estimates on advertising in places that best reach your target audience, if you think you need advertising to get your message out. Don’t forget – advertising isn’t always the answer and almost never works unless there are members doing something to back it up.
Don’t forget to identify all possible expenditures (travel, office equipment, supplies, lost wages for bookoffs, mailing, printing, distribution, web design and hosting charges, etc.). Your campaign may qualify for financial help from CUPE National. Working with your CUPE rep and a Communications representative you can make a request to cost-share expenses for certain types of campaigns.
Local unions may also want to work with provincial divisions and sector committees to gain access to cost-sharing. This can sometimes be done by incorporating local campaigns into broader provincial ones, but it can’t be stressed enough that a campaign does not have to be big to be successful.
Build a concrete measure of success into your campaign so you know how well you’re doing. Include a mail-back coupon if you’re leafleting. Give people a chance to respond by using a feedback phone line. If you have a web site, make sure your site allows people to send comments to you and tracks how many people visit your site and where they’re visiting from.
Hold regular evaluation meetings of your team. It’s important to be aware of the impact your campaign is having so you can shift gears and make appropriate changes. Be flexible and remember to evaluate what you’re doing as you go.