It’s been almost five months since stewards came together in February in New Brunswick to share stories of our organizing successes and to brainstorm ways to continue moving forward together. In that time, we’ve knocked on doors of fellow union members, made thousands of phone calls, and continued to sign up our co-workers as members of the Union. We are stronger now than we’ve ever been! Here are some of the ways we’ve been building our Union throughout New Jersey:
Victoria Weed, a member of Local 1036, became a Shop Steward in the Probation Services department of the Administrative Office of the Courts just this past September. Since then, not only has membership in her worksite increased by more than 20%, but her passion for workers’ rights has clearly rubbed off on her co-workers. Worksite meetings are standing-room only, with engaged and active participation from everyone in the room. Vicki has fully engaged in the union’s program of member to member communication around the importance of the Pension Ballot Campaign. She is doing the crucial and consistent work of building a Strong Union!
Sally Eldridge, a member of Local 1038 and a Shop Steward at the Department of Labor in Trenton is part of a concerted effort by the Local’s stewards on the 11th Floor of the building to educate and engage their co-workers around workplace issues. This team of stewards regularly hold meetings open to anyone who wants to attend, keep their co-workers apprised of what is happening, and encourage participation in labor walks and phone banks to save our pension. With the leadership of this team of stewards, membership and activism at DOL in Trenton continue to grow consistently.
Joe Goss, a member of Local 1039 and a Shop Steward at the Department of Children and Families in the Mercer South Local office has been putting in consistent work in building solidarity at his worksite over the last several months. In that time, membership at his site has increased by 15%, not far off from his goal of 100% membership! His passion is making its way around the worksite too. Meetings are packed and members are taking action to save their pensions by getting involved in the campaign to pass the constitutional amendment by phone banking and knocking on doors until Election Day this November.
Building Union Power Between CWA Sectors
When one CWA Local is on strike, we are all on strike! When 39,000 Verizon workers— including hundreds of members of Local 1000 in New Jersey— walked off the job in April for a fair contract, CWA members in the public sector were on the front lines too, side-by-side, supporting their brothers and sisters on strike.
Pete Ruffini, a member of Local 1037 and Shop Steward at the Department of Labor in New Brunswick, was one of the many members that walked the picket line at Verizon Wireless. In his time on the picket line providing moral support to strikers, Pete built bonds through meaningful conversations on worker’s common fights to protect retirement security and health benefits in the State of New Jersey and at Verizon. Topics of conversation also included protecting middle-class jobs against threats of outsourcing and disastrous trade deals like the TPP. Moved by the showing of solidarity, Verizon workers are committed to standing with their brothers and sisters in the public sector in the pension ballot campaign. Thank you to Pete and the other members that walked the picket line during the 45-day strike!
Local 1036 Members work to stay near 100% membership at BCBSS
Having a 99% membership rate is a source of pride for our members at the Burlington County Board of Social Services (BCBSS) and they work hard to keep it that way. Aside from having a Steward in every Unit, they showed initiative to work with Management to allow the Chief Steward and Local 1036 VP of Local Government, Pamela Sallie, time on the agenda of every new employee training to discuss the structure and history of the Union as well as the benefits of and strength gained from Union membership. This effort and communication has resulted in them reaching and maintaining 99% membership. We applaud the efforts of the Stewards at the BCBSS and recognize them as an example for all to follow.
Winning on Workplace Safety at Local 1088
Over the course of several months, members of Local 1088 individually approached their supervisors and even an assistant division manager to communicate that they felt unsafe bringing litigants into rooms that were unsecured. With each individual attempt, their concerns were dismissed. When workers joined together with their union representative and all signed a grievance directed at management, panic buttons were finally installed to ensure their safety. As individuals, their concerns were dismissed and neglected, but when they acted together and as a unified front, they were given the protection they sought. Now, workers feel more secure in their daily assignments and have seen firsthand the real power of solidarity!
Organizing to 100% Membership at Camden OPD
Nothing builds power quite like organizing to 100% membership at a worksite. A huge solidarity shout-out to Camden OPD for reaching this organizing milestone. Shop Stewards Anne Picker and Eric Hollinger made it a point to speak with non-members about the importance of joining the Union so that this worksite could move into 2016 stronger than ever!
Exciting work has been done throughout the state over the last several months. As we move into the summer, it’s important to keep our focus on organizing our worksites in preparation for our upcoming fights. The fall will be upon us before know it and we must always be building ourselves stronger for what lies ahead. I’m proud to be in this fight with you and look forward to sharing more of your organizing stories!