STP Network

A home for long-term power building across the progressive movement

CommUNIONity

August 23, 2021 – September 21, 2021

How might we...

  • Base Building: How might we improve our engagement with our members/base to build power?
    • HMW build another base of power in geographies where communities don’t currently have power?
      • HMW use current union infrastructure for building power to expand how we build power and fight for other community needs (beyond wages and working conditions)?

Hypothesis

If…

  • we empower emerging union leaders (rank and file leaders) to operate as community organizers in their own neighborhoods and can utilize the skills they have as union leaders in the context of their neighborhoods
  • union members can find their common interests within their community by talking to each other and emerging leaders can carry their skills and experience from their union and into their community.  
  • we could connect 1K union members who are fighting together for better wages and working conditions to their shared neighborhood  struggles,
  • we had these bases of political power and key targeted geographies and could add that to the power we currently have, 

Then…

  • we could build local organizing communities comprised of local rank and file union leaders in those neighborhoods and their friends and families. 
  • we have a set of skilled leaders ready for community organizing. 
  • then we could bring that organized power, skills, to building the kind of political power necessary to turn chicago into a place where communities in Chicago could thrive. 
  • we could have this once in a lifetime opportunity to shift direction of investments in the city. 

Design

6 week timeline

 

6 interns – 3 from each of 2 unions

Interns doing outreach in 3 wards talking to union members about proposed ordinance by group of candidates that outlines city use of $2M

  • Asking union members to sign postcard to aldermen + to come to community meeting in their ward
  • Determining how federal $ and city budget are used in a community-first way

 

Textbanking: During community meetings and in the week following, we can use Hustle to activate this list of folks – what is our success rate of translate textbanking into digital action taker measure up to cold list

 

1 or 2 visioning sessions with union staff who have been working in this with us of what we imagine this could look like 

 

We have gathered feedback from interns about other internships and paths of leadership development; what have their frustrations been

  • What does the union do with this information after we talk to these folks?

 

Visioning sessions and feedback from interns will inform a proposal that is sent to union leadership 

 

At the end of 6 weeks, we will have a set of data – sample of union members in each of the 3 wards, anecdotal data on what $ could be used for, we’ve been building a list of folks with childcare-aged children for an initiative out of one of the unions.

  • How to analyze this data; how can we reflect this data back to the unions in a way that is valuable to them? 
  • Hard for a union to think about infrastructure at many different scales; this data gives us a sense for what a region or 1000 members in an area look like vs. one school or one workplace

 

Week of 9/13 — meeting to reflect and gather feedback with staff

Metrics

Success:

 

We are able to show that this work is mutually-beneficial, both for community fights and for union fights and we demonstrate it’s viable, winning the argument that community fights builds strength of union overall. 

  • Collect data to show how we might work with unions to achieve scale.
  • We are able to convert text banking to digital action takers at a higher rate than unions are used to
  • We reflect our work/data back to the unions in such a way that they can see the value
  • We have a sense for the potential impact of this work

 

We have a program of training, organizing and action that is repeatable (with adjustments) throughout the year in multiple settings.

 

Organizing Interns organize successful ward meetings: 10-15 other members attend beyond interns;  meetings are engaging, lead to a next step;  

 

We train 6 leaders from 2 unions to recruit other members, lead a meeting, and to execute the follow up step after the meeting

 

Commitment from 3 union staff lead to a follow up process (and maybe a structure) with the union leaders and the lists of activated members in the targeted wards (3)  – this would look like a commitment to a future process

 

Fear – interns feel so invested that they’re a little scared. They are so invested that they are going to struggle for it. 

 

Failure:

 

Unable to get members interested in building organization in their communities; have to drop having community meetings

 

Leaders think the union has no role in the community

 

Leaders think the community is too hard or not worth trying to organize

Learnings

  • If we could have rearranged the timeline, we would’ve included a lot more time in the internship for culminating events. Only the last ~2 weeks were about turning the folks we contacted into action and pulling off that action. 
  • Community organizing is harder than workplace organizing (even when it’s union members talking to each other!)
  • We only know how to do this kind of leadership development with rank and file leaders when folks have a full time engagement over a period of weeks.
  • There is more to work with if we can figure out how ppl can do this in addition to jobs – can reach a larger body of people that way

Decisions

Questions

  • Is it worth doing more experimentation around a program that fits in w/ people’s regular jobs and families? Or do we work with the window we know we have each year with the teachers?
  • Could we shift our calendar/curriculum to get more out of the six week timeline?
  • Could you design something in partnership with the 3 union staff that could roll this out to other unions?
Accountable Abbie and Carlos
Team Abbie, Carlos
Documents Design + Log
Modified September 28, 2021
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