Get to Know the Non-Member
(This article first appeared in the July-August 2017 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine)
By Organization Director Anna Smith
As I travel across the country to state conferences and to conduct trainings, too often I hear more excuses for low membership than what is done to connect with non-members.
Who has felt at some point that a task was not attainable? Do not let negative thinking and doubts stop you from reaching out to other members and non-members.
Below are some of the most common reasons I am told why some locals are not trying to organize. Do not let these stop you from strengthening your local.
“All of our non-members are long-term non-members”
This is often not true. Do you know all the non-members in your local? If there was a random drawing, what would you be able to tell me about them? Would you know how long they have worked for the USPS? Were they always in the same craft? What are their workplace issues? When was the last time someone approached them about the union and joining up?
“They will never join”
Yes, there will be some employees who may never join; however, this does not mean that we stop asking. We should not close the door on them just because they say “No” once, twice or more. After a period of time, be it a month to a couple years, who knows what they will say. Perhaps something happened at work or home that would make the non-member more inclined to join.
“We have nobody who will help”
Often we (as officers and stewards) say this is because we think no one else will step up. As we all know, people don’t line up to volunteer.
However, people don’t normally like volunteering for something they don’t already know how to do. Have a one-on-one conversation with different members you think might help. Ask them if they can do a specific task. If you have 10 people who each do a small part, you can easily get a larger project done.
So, when it comes to organizing on the workroom floor, ask a member who works with a non-member to speak to them about the union and the importance of joining. The member might be surprised to learn that they have been working with a non-member and will happily offer to speak with them. Have membership packets ready.
“Do not have time”
There will never be enough hours in a day, but it is essential to make organizing a priority.
The more of us who stand together, the more strength we have. With more strength, more people want to join and more are willing to help. Having more volunteers leads to a larger pool of time to work on organizing, which makes it less time consuming. We do not get to skip a step in that cycle.
Revitalize and Organize
Being a leader is not just about telling people what to do, but rather giving others the tools and guidance to be successful. The Organizing Department is working with local leaders on how they can revitalize the APWU presence in the workplace and empower the rank-and-file to reach out to non-members.
Something as simple as keeping your APWU bulletin board up-to-date and having regular meetings make an impact. Go to apwu.org to get the tools you need.