AFSCME STRONG - Members Organize to Organize

AFSCME Members Organize to Organize

AFSCME members from every corner of the state gathered for the three day AFSCME Strong training, which was held on November 16, 17, and 18 at the AFSCME LUJAN Union Hall in Albuquerque, to network with one another, discuss best practices, and develop the necessary skills to build strength and membership within their local.

“AFSCME Strong focuses on real, grass roots organizing, designed to identify issues that our members deeply care about and find solutions we can work on together. We have to get back to the basics of organizing, and nothing beats the one-on-one conversations at the worksite and on the door,” said Connie Derr, Executive Director for AFSCME Council 18.

AFSCME Strong Day 1 - Training

AFSCME members gathered for the first day of training, which was focused on how best to have successful one-on-one conversations with our co-workers. We use one-on-one conversations to get to know our co-workers, find out which issues they care about, and find solutions to address these issues.

“We cannot assume anymore that we know what our members really care about. We have to engage them, we have to have these conversations, and most importantly, we have to work together to fix them,” said Daniel Solis, President of AFSCME Local 1413.

The afternoon session of the training was focused on worksite mapping. It is extremely important that we really know where are worksites are where are members work.

“If we truly want to grow our locals, identify new leaders, and tackle the problems, we have to identify what are strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities are. Worksite mapping is an extremely valuable tool to figure all of that out,” said Casey Padilla, President of AFSCME Council 18 and Local 624.

AFSCME Strong Day 2 - Worksite Visits

Day two kicked of with a 5am worksite visit with for local 624. The team was able to have real conversations to dozens of blue collar workers, identify what can be worked on and sign up members. During the lunch hour, four state facilities were visited, each spending roughly two hours with the members to talk about the issues, identify solutions, and sign up new members.  

“This was my first lunch and learn, and I was amazed at how many of my sisters and brothers opened up to us. We were able to identify so many things we can work together to fix and we were also able to fix some of them right there. This truly is the best way to engage our members,” said Nancy Howley, Recording Secretary for AFSCME Local 3999.

AFSCME Strong Day 3 - Home Visits

AFSCME member activist teams loaded into their cars and hit the doors for nearly four hours of house visits. The worksite visits were extremely effective but it was time to take these discussions directly to our members to give them the ability to really open up.

“Home visits were tough at first, but once I was able to catch a few folks at home and really talk with them one-on-one I was able to get them to open up and talk to me. When you combine the home visits with the worksite visits, you really get a chance to see the entire picture,” said Tomas Romero, President of AFSCME Local 1888.

Moving Forward - Big Goals

Step 1: Organizing Member to Member

AFSCME Strong makes organizing job one. In the next year, 5 percent of AFSCME members will receive in-depth training on how to reach and connect with coworkers. These AFSCME Strong member activists will be the engine that drives our effort to engage 80 percent of our members, one conversation at a time.

Step 2: PEOPLE Power

We need to do more and do better when it comes to advocating in the political process for candidates that care about the middle class. PEOPLE is a major priority. We will make PEOPLE promotion a central issue at every union event and we will increase participation in the program nationwide. Our goal is to have 10 percent of members signed up as PEOPLE MVPs.

Step 3: Support

We are all in this together. AFSCME Strong is structured to help locals, councils and the national union share resources, best practices – and information. If you are interested in taking part in the next AFSCME Strong Training, please visit the website calendar to learn more.