Brothers and Sisters:
Last summer, we conducted focus groups for dozens of members of Teamsters Local 117. We wanted to hear from you about how to build a stronger Union that can more effectively fight for fair wages and good benefits for all members.
One of the things we learned is that members want more responsibility and to take greater ownership of their Union. They want more active Shop Stewards who play a greater role in the workplace; they want to understand their contract; and they want to get involved.
Your feedback has led to a number of exciting changes:
- We have reformatted our membership meetings to make them more engaging;
- We are beefing up our organizing program to build Union density in key industries;
- We have launched a new program to train Shop Stewards to work with members to resolve first-step issues;
- Shop Stewards will now have the responsibility to help run Labor Management committee meetings in conjunction with your Business Representative.
These changes will make us stronger as more members get involved. They will also help inoculate us from a greater threat – ongoing efforts in the political arena and through the courts to restrict our rights as Union members to collectively bargain.
It is no surprise that Union density has been in steady decline for the last 40 years, and that middle class has suffered as a result. The decline in Union density nearly parallels the decrease in income for the middle class as illustrated by the chart below:
Unionized workers now represent only 11.3% of the overall workforce down from 20.1% in 1983. With the recent attacks on working families, that number will continue to fall unless Unions like ours transform themselves into more dynamic, member-driven organizations.
That will require all of us to take a more active role. There are already a lot of opportunities to take greater ownership of your Union from our member-led caucuses to our community volunteer work to our work to elect people who care about working family issues.
If you have other ideas about how we can build a stronger, more cohesive Union or requests for trainings, please share them with me or with your Business Representative.
We want to hear from you!