Brothers and Sisters, with the new year comes a time to look ahead with optimism, and always to try to make the coming year even better than the last.
For many of us, this comes in the form of a resolution. Whether it is getting in shape, eating better, or cutting back on bad habits; we have all taken up resolutions with varying success over the years.
This year, I am asking each and every member to make a resolution to become a more active part of Local 150. Whether you are a new member still figuring out how everything works or a Lifetime Member who has done it all, please find a way to be a bigger part of our union in 2023.
After all, what is a union? It is a group of workers who are united behind a set of common goals. Now, make no mistake about it, Local 150 is about a strong a union as I have ever seen, but just imagine what we could accomplish if every member got more involved – even just a little bit. We are coming out of several years that have brought historic accomplishments that generations of members will talk about after we are gone, but that is no reason to stop setting our goals even higher.
With the hours that members have been working in the past couple of years, I know that free time is scarce, but everything the union is doing is being done to help you at work and at home, so it is an extremely worthwhile investment of your time.
When I say, “get more involved,” what does that look like? At its most basic level, it means going to union meetings. Every District has monthly meetings on top of the two semi-annual General Membership Meetings that are held in District 1.
If you have never been to a General Membership Meeting, this is where we honor Lifetime Members, but also provide detailed updates on work and benefits. For the past 14 years, I have given detailed updates on our benefit funds at these meetings, and this is one of the best places to get an understanding of how our benefits work, what we are doing to strengthen them, and why we do it. If you walk out of the meeting with an understanding of the presentation, I can guarantee that you will be able to explain it to a member or two at work.
Make a point to be at the General Membership Meeting this month, on Friday, January 27th at the District 1 Hall. You’ll be glad you came.
District meetings are an opportunity to get to know your business agents and the members in your area and to get a more in-depth look on the work happening where you live. The fellowship is great at the meetings, and if you hang around, you will make friends to last you a lifetime. If you haven’t been going to these, the union mailed out magnets this month with the meeting schedule for your District, so make a goal of getting out to as many as you can.
Being informed on the business of the union will serve you well, and it will put you in a position to get other members more involved as well, or at the very least to sort out the kind of confusion or rumors that go around jobsites. We all know that nobody can get a rumor going like operators, but when it leads to confusion on something important, we often count on members who are well informed to set things straight. If you stumble across someone who could benefit from a union meeting, bring them with you! It’s one of the best ways to build relationships with members who live and work around you.
This is nothing new to many of you who are regulars at union meetings, and to you, I would ask you to take the next step – help us organize!
Organizing is the most important thing that our union does, and our members are the most powerful organizers we have. One of the easiest things you can do is to card the operator next to you. If you make a single resolution at work this year, make it this one. Take your card out and ask to see his or hers. If the other worker shows you theirs, that is great, and if they don’t have one, it is an opportunity.
When you come across non-union workers on the job or in your day-to-day life, you have the opportunity to show them what a union means to real workers. As much as an organizer on staff can show them the wages and benefits and training we deliver, hearing it from a member who can validate it for them in a way that they can equate with their own lives is extremely powerful.
Talking to non-union workers about the benefits of a union is more than just showing them your new truck.
If you’ve been in a spot in your life where your health insurance made a difference to you or someone in your family, talk about it. If the pay bump you got when you joined Local 150 made a difference, talk about it. If you learned a new skill that helped get you out to work, talk about it.
If you are at a District meeting, ask a business agent or organizer if there is someone you can talk to that might help them with a campaign they are working on. It is a smalltime commitment, but it can make a huge difference.
All over the country right now, workers in every industry are fighting to form unions and get a contract. From coffee shops to restaurants to Amazon warehouses, they are trying to get started, and they need every bit of help they can get. Above all, be supportive of these workers, because they are fighting for the same things that generations of Local 150 members fought to give us. Whether it is walking past a coffee shop that is hassling its workers or making a phone call to a company that is refusing to negotiate with the union that its employees have formed, you can help from the outside. We rely on the support of others for so much of what we do, and you have the power to be that force for good.
Finally, when we send you a list of candidates that we have endorsed in elections, take a look through it and support them. While I know that the political stances within our membership cover every part of the spectrum from far-left to far-right, understand that our political strategy is based on issues that help you at work. We all have our causes and social issues, but we all count on that paycheck. As I have said before, vote your job and lobby your hobby.
We are starting this year from a position of strength, and we have the opportunity to take our success to new heights, and as with everything that Local 150 does, it all starts with you. Happy New Year to you and all of your families. I hope to see you at the General Membership Meeting this month, and I look forward to having a bigger, stronger union to push the ball forward for all of us this year.
United We Stand, Divided We Fall.