|If they did it, you can do it. Fully mobilized and loving it|
|Before we became fully
mobilized, we were less structured and everything was
more casual... Now, we reach everyone. No one is left
Council Leader PEF Division 186
Dept. of Tax & Finance, Long Island
By SHERRY HALBROOK
No two PEF divisions are the same.
Whether your division is fully mobilized, still working on it or wondering where to begin, you can learn from others who are already doing it.
Heres a look at what the leaders of several fully mobilized divisions say about how they did it, what they hope to achieve, and how its working out so far.
We were the fourth PEF division to become fully mobilized, says Donna Rodriguez, council leader of PEF Division 186 at the state Department of Taxation and Finance on Long Island.
I decided to get us fully mobilized after I received member mobilization training from PEF field representative Michelle Routi.
About half of our 120 members work in Nassau County and the rest in Suffolk County.
I started with our division stewards and then I went to members who I knew had always wanted to get more involved in the union, she said. Its really important to know your members and be in touch with them.
I emphasized that if they became member mobilizers, that information would flow through them. By getting involved, they would own the process.
When a member agreed to become a mobilizer, Rodriguez says she asked them, Which members are you already in touch with?
The answer helped her know which nine members to assign to that mobilizer. Of course, some members might already be assigned to a mobilizer.
We have to make sure our lists of contacts dont overlap and no one is left out. We update our lists of mobilizers and their contacts as our membership changes, Rodriguez says. The mean age of our workforce is 50 years old, so people keep leaving and some new ones are hired.
Rodriguez says she finds the member mobilizer network is a great way to involve newer and younger members in the unions activities and build a pool of potential division stewards and leaders for the future.
Although Rodriguez is a member of PEFs contract team for the next round of PS&T negotiations that will begin in late 2002, she isnt waiting until then to put the divisions Member Mobilizer network to use.
The network allows us to talk to our members so quickly, we use it for lots of things, she says. We even used it to get the word out when the father of one of our members died just before a three-day weekend.
It will be great to have that ability to reach members quickly once the contract talks get going, Rodriguez says.
When PEF was negotiating the current contract, members of our division wore black every pay day to show solidarity, she says. It made an impression that people still remember. The last time I wore black on a pay day, members kept asking me, Whats wrong? Whats going on?
So, I know they will be ready to respond when their mobilizers alert them to new issues or strategies. Well be even more effective now.
Before we became fully mobilized, we were less structured and everything was more casual, she says. Now, we reach everyone. No one is left out.
Jim Gonyo, council leader of PEF Division 342 at Altona Correctional Facility in PEF Region 7, says they achieved full mobilization last fall.
The divisions 40 members are scattered throughout the prison, and some mainly nurses work nights, according to Gonyo.
We tried to group people by where they work, he says.
Using the steward network and recruiting a few more mobilizers to fill in the gaps was all it took, he says, to get going.
Only one person refused to do it, Gonyo says.
The division receives and distributes information from PEF and it also uses the network to keep members informed about whats going on in the division.
I put my name last on the material thats going to people on my list. They read it, initial it and pass it along. When I get it back, I can tell if everyone has seen it, Gonyo says.
We print notices and minutes from our meetings and the mobilizers post them on the bulletin boards throughout the facility, he says. And we used the network to circulate information about PEFs nurses lobby day coming up in Albany.
The key to getting people involved in the union, hes found, is direct contact and communication.
Youve got to be out there talking to people, Gonyo says.
I saw that by linking
individual members to a co-worker who was their member
mobilizer, that would put a real face on PEF,
in a good way.