Given the onslaught of attacks on labor, unions are far too often forced into a corner, dodging punches left and right – trying to avoid hitting the mat while the corporate bullies slander the ring with their anti-union rhetoric and jam-packed pocketbooks. This forces unions into a reactionary position, trying to stave off the next blow.
One of the ways that Local 117 avoids getting trapped into this cycle of reactivity is by engaging in a comprehensive strategic planning process every three years.
By making a concerted effort to plan for the future, we are able to set the tone for what’s to come by identifying short and long-term goals and building strategies for achieving those goals. Some successes resulting from the previous plans have included, establishment of a local union strike fund, increased public sector organizing, insuring our financial stability, and expanding our visibility and public presence. In sum, by setting our priorities and finding strategies for achieving our goals, we have been able to take a proactive approach to planning for the future and continue to improve our ability to advocate for working families.
Last September, the Local began planning for a new three year cycle. After taking a long hard look some of our internal strengths and weaknesses as well as our external threats and opportunities, we were able to develop a series of priorities and goals to help focus. For the 2014-2016 period, the Local has identified following four priorities and goals:
- Membership Involvement. Our goal is to make a fundamental shift in approaching representational work as a service-based organization to one that emphasizes internally strengthening our membership, actively pursuing and developing member leaders, and improving overall membership participation, without sacrificing the high-level of representation.
- Organizing/Growth. Our goal is to build a foundation for engaging in successful external organizing.
- Coalition Building and Community Strength. Our goal is to continue to strengthen our relationship with present and future coalition partners and to assess our various community connections to determine how to best leverage them to impact meaningful change for our members and working class people.
- Politics/Legislation. Our goal is to improve the overall structure and focus of our political program and increase participation at all levels of the political/legislative process.
Although accomplishing some of these short and long-terms goals will be targeted towards the specific priority, they are all connected. For example, successful external organizing can only be furthered when members are actively involved and when we have coalition partners and friends in the community and/or the right piece of legislation or legislator to advocate on behalf of unorganized workers. In fact, it is the overlap among the priorities where our true power in planning lies because we are able to approach all of this work in the context of our broader vision: To lead the resurgence of the labor movement in the Pacific Northwest.
In some ways, it is essential that we do have the kind of flexibility to respond quickly, ready to defend against the latest unjust termination, threat of lockout, or bogus piece of legislation. Our ability to react makes us a formidable opponent, yet in strategic planning, we have the unique opportunity to plan ahead, set big goals, and ensure that they don’t get lost along the way. Now, the real challenge lies ahead – making the plan come to life and putting “action” into words.
Are you ready to step up and be involved?