April 24, 2018

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UUP begins member-to-member training

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Imagine the power of one person spreading a message of strength and solidarity to 10 colleagues, one conversation at a time, without using the internet or social media. Just good discussions between two people, and a chance for both to listen and exchange ideas.

Multiply that effort by 10, then 100 and then 1,000—and a comparative handful of UUP members could reach thousands of their colleagues through discussions that will educate those colleagues about the union and could also serve as a conduit to union leaders about members’ perceptions of their union.

Building relationships, forging memberships

That’s the idea behind UUP’s Member2Member training, which the union is offering to members willing to learn better ways to build relationships with their fellow UUPers. The training kicked off April 24 at three locations: in the Capital District, at The Desmond Hotel; in Western New York, at the NYSUT regional office in the Buffalo suburb of Williamsville; and on Long Island, at the NYSUT Nassau regional office in Woodbury.

Above, Cobleskill Chapter member Wendi Richards, center, raises her hand, as Cobleskill members Jennifer Golden, left, and Christina Pratt listen during the Capital District training session.

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“You’re the first group to go through training in how we talk to our members,” Tom Hoey, UUP’s statewide membership development officer, above, told the Capital Region trainees in a message that stressed the responsibility of every UUP member to ensure the union’s strength. “We’re always out fighting for what’s right. You’re the future of our union—and it’s our union.”

A second round of training will take place May 12, in the North Country, Southern Tier and the Mid-Hudson region.

The sessions also introduced several of UUP’s new professional organizers to members in the regions to which the organizers have been assigned. The AFT is helping UUP with the training sessions; representatives of AFT’s organization and field services division were at the three sessions April 24, and will also be on hand May 12.

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Above, Western New York trainees pose with their special "Ask me about UUP" T-shirts, which they will wear as they meet, talk with, and recruit new UUP members.

AFT assisting

Jennifer Kaseman, the AFT representative at the Capital Region session, gave the group an overview of the pending U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSME Council 31. A ruling is expected soon in this case that could overturn the right of public sector unions to collect fees from people in their bargaining unit who have never signed membership cards.

“We need to be maintaining the people who are members now, and we will need to recruit new members,” Kaseman told the group. “And the people in this room will be a big part of how we do that.”

New activists, new enthusiasm

Participants in the Capital Region training included many people new to union activism, such as Empire State College Chapter member John Meaney, who is a first-time building rep and thought the training would help him in that role.

“I’m new at it, and I want to build a team to get more action and more input from the members,” he said.

Richards and Golden participated in UUP’s Chapter Action Project training last year, an experience that led to their decision to sign up for the member-to-member training. Their colleague, Christina Pratt, attended a lunch for members that the Cobleskill Chapter organized as a CAP project, and out of that introduction to the union, Pratt also decided to sign up for training.

All three work in student support services at SUNY Cobleskill, and said the idea of one-to-one conversations resonated with them. They have seen how effective this technique is in their jobs.

“Honestly, that’s a philosophy we try to instill in our students, trying to have that point of contact you feel comfortable with,” Pratt said.

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