How to Make Union Meetings Interesting and Useful

Membership meetings are not simply places for members to get information and cast votes. Meetings should give members a sense of power by bringing them together. They can see and feel that they are not alone, that others have similar problems, and that others have found solutions. Meetings should give members the opportunity to observe leaders and potential leaders in action. They can learn from each other, combine ideas, and build something bigger.

If this doesn’t sound like a union meeting you’ve ever been to, it’s because many locals are unknowingly stuck in traditions that almost guarantee that a first-time attendee will not come back, and only the most faithful will persevere.

Although many officers fret about low attendance levels, it is not necessary for democracy that all or most members attend membership meetings. Except at contract time and for other special events, most locals will see only a relatively small, dedicated minority at monthly meetings. Meetings, especially on a regular basis, are not for everyone.

But union meetings can be the chief organizing vehicle for that portion of the membership that takes union work most seriously – the activists. Coming to the monthly meeting is often one of the first things that a member tries when he’s seeking to be more involved. It’s important not to turn them off!

That means that the success of a meeting is not measured simply by the number attending, but by how that meeting contributes to the control, involvement, activism, and self-confidence of all the members, both those present and those not. What “comes out of” the meeting—the plans made, assignments taken, feedback received—are more important than the meeting itself.

union-meetingPerk Up The Agenda

To improve meetings and boost attendance, start by doing away with the standard meeting announcement that sets out the same uninformative agenda month after month:

  • President’s Report
  • Committee Reports
  • Old Business
  • New Business
  • Adjourn (wake up)

Tell members instead what will actually come up at the meeting. Make sure they know how to propose agenda points covering their concerns. Distribute proposed motions in advance.

Put important and controversial items on the agenda. Discuss issues that will directly affect work situations. Have votes on policy questions where the vote really makes a difference.

Get rid of the boring reports. Print them out and distribute them in advance. Do them in multiple languages if appropriate, so members can come to meetings prepared.

Once we get over thinking that every member should attend regularly, then we can specialize some meetings. Plan each meeting to focus on a different section of the membership. Invite a few of those members to make a presentation on specific problems they’re facing.

Advertise that the January meeting, for example, will take up the question of repetitive strain injuries in the wrapping department, and recruit shop floor leaders and RSI victims to give presentations. February will focus on the problem of a particular supervisor in inspection. Treated this way, soon members will be clamoring to get their points on the agenda.

Another possibility is to move the location of the meetings around to make them more convenient to different segments of the membership.

Get People Talking

Use some imagination. Bring in outside speakers for brief talks and discussion. Use video clips. Give people—especially volunteers—recognition for what they have accomplished for the union.

Break down into small groups on occasion to get more people participating. Have members do skits or role-playing to deal with challenges facing the union.

For example, management wants to bring in summer temporaries. Some members are pleased because their kids can get the jobs; others want to make management stick to the contractual hiring procedures. Most of the people at the meeting, because they think about the contract more than other members do, are in the latter camp.

Rather than just discussing how to make management toe the line, get two members to come up front, play the roles of union members with different viewpoints, and argue it out. Use the insights gained to plan a strategy.

Always have a point on the agenda called “members’ concerns,” where anyone can raise a problem or question without necessarily making a motion. In this portion the officers listen, make notes, and after the meeting see that some action or investigation begins. Not only do they report back to the person who has brought the concern, they also report back to the next union meeting.

Be Welcoming

Make sure several people are assigned to help any new members or first-timers understand the meeting procedures and help them accomplish what they came to the meeting for. Sit with them and explain what is going on. If a person uses procedure incorrectly, figure out his intent and help him through it.

The chairperson should go out of her way to make the newcomers comfortable, give them recognition when possible, and draw them further into participation.

Invite spouses to the meetings as full participants (except for voting). Have good quality childcare so that the kids look forward to the meeting as well as the adults.

One technique we do not recommend is door prizes or lottery tickets to boost meeting attendance. It cheapens the purpose of the meeting and stresses seeing things in terms of “what’s in it for me individually” rather than coming together to help all of us.

On the other hand, Teamsters Local 174 in Seattle used a financial incentive to break the ice with new part-time UPS workers. Those who came to an introductory meeting were refunded their initiation fee. Union leaders thought the one-time appeal to self-interest was worth it, to make sure some of these young, high-turnover workers learned firsthand about the local’s philosophy and how to get to the union hall.

Don’t Stop Here…

At the end of the meeting it is sometimes useful to have a brief point on evaluation—what could be improved? Keep the meetings short so they don’t dribble to a close as people drift out; leave time for informal discussion and socializing afterward.

Remember that the meeting is only one piece of the union’s life; most members relate to the union outside of meetings. If the union meeting in essence consists of the various levels of leaders—elected people and rank and file activists—then the next job is to figure out how to provide two-way information between the leaders who come to meetings and the bulk of the members in the workplace. A strong and democratic union exists primarily as a force in the workplace, not at the union hall.

That’s why every meeting should be an action meeting that leads to some other activity. Members and leaders should take assignments at the meeting, and these should be summed up at the end: “The president will check into x and report back to y body. John has volunteered to help the education committee put out a leaflet on xyz problem by x date. Everyone here in the abc department will take the group grievances and get them signed.”

Assignments should lead the work of the union back into the workplace where more members can be involved, not just to the next union meeting or committee meeting.

YOUR TURN

How do you accomplish a sense of togetherness at your Union meetings? As a member? As a leader?  Sound off in Comments, on the Union Built PC Facebook Page, or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly eNewsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox.

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Union Built Cloud Services

With nearly universal Internet connectivity these days, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have access to all your important documents not only via your PC, but also from your smartphone, your tablet, your laptop anywhere you may be!  The Union Built Cloud offers automatic backup of your data and a secure  storage and syncing solution for security of your files and seamless access to Word docs, PDFs, spreadsheets, photos and any other digital assets.

The Union Built Cloud offers:

  • Daily Automatic Data Backup and Status Reports
  • Protection from Ransomware, Malware and Viruses
  • Industry-Leading FailSafe Cloud Backup Protection
  • Reliability Monitoring by Union Built PC
  • Secure Hosting Platform
  • Unlimited Storage Customized to Your Needs
  • Guards your Union Office from Cyber Terrorism

Backup of Your Data is More Important than Ever

If you don’t yet have a service for storing and syncing your data in the cloud, you need one.  With the growing threat of Cyber Terrorism the Union Built Cloud provides a secure backup solution for all your data keeping these sensitive files safe from Cyber Criminals; particularly Ransomware, a growing Cyber Threat.

you-got-ransomware

FREE DOWNLOAD: What is Ransomware and How to Stay Safe

In fact, Union Built PC has been the leader in secure cloud solutions for Union Members and Union Offices since before most started worrying about cyber threats and online privacy. And we intend to stay one-step ahead of such threats long into the future.

Understanding ‘The Cloud’

The ‘cloud’ is a real buzzword, but what is it and how does it impact you and your Union Office?

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Union Built Cloud services refer to storing your files somewhere other than your computer’s hard drive.  Having data in the cloud also refers to the ability to access those files through the Internet. Your data is encrypted before making the journey over the Internet to the Union Built Cloud and, while they live on the Union Built Cloud servers, they’re also encrypted. The service doesn’t upload entire files every time they’re updated; just changes, saving you connection bandwidth and storage space.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Learn More about the Union Built Cloud

The Union Built Cloud is also an automatic backup solution for your data keeping it safe and secure so if you’re personal computing systems are ever attacked, Union Built PC can easily restore all of your files in their most current state.

How Union Built PC Resolved the Cyber Terrorism Strike Against JATC Union Local 351

On July 14, 2016 Union Built PC received an email from Lou Jiacopello, Training Director of JATC 351.  Lou reported that one of their workstations became infected with Ransomware.  We quickly took steps to eliminate this threat to no avail.  Union Built PC’s Director of Technical Support, Glenn Joseph, was quickly on hand to assess the problem.

Upon investigation, Glenn determined that the only backup JATC 351’s data was 3 days old and performing a complete restore would mean valuable data most definitely would be lost.

ransomware-help-union-built-pc-cloud-storage-service

We were forced to advise our client that only solution to this problem was to pay the ransom.  This did not sit well with us, and there was no guarantee that after paying the ransom all the data would be restored.  This was, however, the only viable option.

Ransomware attacks data files and encrypts these files denying you access.  This type of cyber attack forces you to pay a fee – the ransom – in order to obtain a key code that will unencrypt the files so they are restored and you can regain access.  Payment is made via bitcoin, and can get very expensive.  In this case our only option, due to the nature of the data, was to pay.

Glenn supervised the job from beginning to end, and we were able to fully restore all of JATC 351’s data.  The job did not end here!  Union Built PC provided JATC 351 with our secure Union Built Cloud Storage Solution, which backs up all data on a daily basis.  The Service also provides for client reports regarding the status of daily Backups.  These reports are sent to Union Built PC and analyzed, so that we, can monitor the safety of your data each day.

Union Built PC has now ensured that JATC 351 has a fully secure and reliable backup plan.

RELATED: Read the JATC 351 Ransomware Union Built Cloud Service Case Study

“We reached out to Union Built PC (as we have done in the past) to assist us when one of our workstations became infected with Ransomware.  Glenn Joseph (Director of Technical Support) for Union Built PC contacted us and quickly assessed the problem.  Thanks to Glenn we were able to get all of our data restored.  Pete Marchese, Director of Operations for Union Built PC, recommended their Union Built Cloud Storage Solution to provide us with a secure backup plan. It is now in place and protecting our data.  We never thought cyber terrorism would be something we’d have to worry about, but have now learned any person – any organization – can be vulnerable.  We highly recommend Union Built PC and their Cloud Services to all Locals and Training Centers in order to provide reliable and secure Cloud Backup to keep you safe from Cyber Terrorism.”

– Lou Jiacopello Training Director JATC LU 351

Download the Union Built Cloud Brochure and learn more about the cloud and how it’s now integral to everything you do.  And give us a call at (877) 728-6466 or contact us online to talk more about how we can keep your data safe and secure.

And don’t forget to Like Union Built PC on Facebook, Follow Us on Twitter and LinkedIn and subscribe to our monthly eNewsletter for Union News and articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox.

 

Cyber Terrorism Strikes JATC Local Union 351 IBEW

On July 14, 20016 Union Built PC received an email from Lou Jiacopello, Training Director of JATC 351.  Lou reported that one of their workstations became infected with Ransomware.  We quickly took steps to eliminate this threat to no avail.  Union Built PC’s Director of Technical Support, Glenn Joseph, was quickly on hand to assess the problem.

Upon investigation, Glenn determined that the only backup JATC 351’s data was 3 days old and performing a complete restore would mean valuable data most definitely would be lost.
We were forced to advise our client that only solution to this problem was to pay the ransom.  This did not sit well with us, and there was no guarantee that after paying the ransom all the data would be restored.  This was, however, the only viable option.

JATC IBEW 351 Training Center Sign

RELATED: What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware attacks data files and encrypts these files denying you access.  This type of cyber attack forces you to pay a fee – the ransom – in order to obtain a key code that will unencrypt the files so they are restored and you can regain access.  Payment is made via bitcoin, and can get very expensive.  In this case our only option, due to the nature of the data, was to pay.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Protecting Yourself From Ransomware

Glenn supervised the job from beginning to end, and we were able to fully restore all of JATC 351’s data.  The job did not end here!  Union Built PC provided JATC 351 with our secure Union Built Cloud Storage Solution, which backs up all data on a daily basis.  The Service also provides for client reports regarding the status of daily Backups.  These reports are sent to Union Built PC and analyzed, so that we, can monitor the safety of your data each day.

RELATED: What is the Union Built Cloud?

Union Built PC has now ensured that JATC 351 has a fully secure and reliable backup plan.

union-built-pc-cloud-storage-service

Learn more about the Union Built Cloud, contact us with your cyber security questions and concerns and Like us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn and subscribe to our monthly email newsletter for Union News delivered straight to your inbox.

 

 

Union Built PC and CWA District 3

A Meeting of the Minds and A Mission

 

At the Request of CWA District 3 VP Richard F. Honeycutt, Union Built PC was honored to present their new district-wide and locally customizable grievance application at the District 3 Meeting in Daytona Beach Florida on March 22nd.

CWA-communication-workers-of-america-logoThe Grievance Manager Application was custom designed to District 3’s specifications, which includes one-click escalation from local to district control, and customizable email and text alerts at both district and local level. This system also allows for convenient, secure access to all grievances and arbitrations and documents from anywhere an internet connection is available.

Pete Marchese, Director of Operations and Barry Diederich, Director of Software addressed the Local Officers and took them through the operation of their Grievance Manager Application. Union Built PC could not help but notice the District 3 Mission Statement:

“Our Mission is to work together as a Team to build our Union.

We will develop and execute specific action plans, including education and open communication to all Locals in an effort to further build trust.”

… And its similarity to the Union Built PC Mission Statement:

“Helping Unions Excel in Everything they do”

There is no doubt in our minds that we will succeed in our mutual missions and that the Union Team at Union Built PC has provided CWA District 3 with the tools necessary to accomplish this and more.

Union Built PC would like to thank District 3 VP Richard F. Honeycutt, Assistant to VP Nick Hawkins and retired Assistant to the VP Don Larotunda for allowing us to provide them with our Grievance Manager Application.

We would also like to thank District 2-13 VP Ed Mooney for allowing us to build District 2-13s Grievance Manager. Union Built PC now has Grievance Manager tracking grievances and arbitration in real time in District 2-13, District 3 and in select Locals in District 1, CWA.

Click Here to Download the Grievance Manager Brochure or Request a Free Demo

CASE STUDY: Union Built PC Equips New Training Center for IBEW Local 351

Recently, IBEW Local 351 contacted Union Built PC for assistance in building a network and equipping their classrooms for the new training center being built in Folsom New Jersey. Pete Marchese, Director of Operations and Glenn Joseph, Network Technician traveled to New Jersey and met with John Biondi (Training Director), Ed Gant ( Business Manager), and Dennis Kleiner (Business Agent ) to survey the new construction and discuss Network and Equipment needs. On the basis of Union Built PC’s recommendations, we were charged with designing and implementing the network and integrating the classroom equipment into the network and providing secure email.

IBEW-Union Built PC Equips New Training Center for IBEW Local 351

Working with Joseph Knecht (Project Manager), John Biondi (Training Director), Lou Jiacopello (Assistant Training Director), and Dennis Kleiner (Business Agent), Union Built PC designed a State of the Art Network, custom designed for the Training Center’s needs with complete Classroom equipment integration. The Equipment provided included our new UB-7322 Workstations and UB-9743P Notebooks as well as NEC 300W projectors and dual Cisco WAP-321 access points for wireless internet access for the Classrooms. The Network backbone consisted of our newest UB-300 Server running ClearOS Professional Operating System with Cisco 500 POE Switches, QNAP NAS Drives and advanced KVM Switch with LCD Monitor.

RELATED: The UB-300 Server with ClearOS

The Installation commenced in late December 2013 and was accomplished, thanks to the efforts of our Network Technicians Glenn Joseph and Rudy Koch, and with the support of Dennis Kleiner B.A. IBEW 351. The “State of the Art” Network, with Union Built PC’s UB-300 Server as the core, was able to configure the network with “Hot Lans” on separate IPs which enabled classrooms to access the internet isolating them from the main data network for security purposes. Secure email was provided on the UB-300 server via Zarafa Email Service with Outlook plugin and smart phone and tablet access.

Union Built PC was able to accomplish this Training Center installation on budget and on time. We are honored to have been chosen by IBEW Local 351 to accomplish this task. At the present time we are working with IBEW Local 351 to develop a document storage and tracking system for the training center that will be hosted on our UB-300 Server. It will allow secure and instant access to their documents via web browser.

Testimonials

“As the new assistant training Director I was fortunate to be involved with every aspect of this project including helping to explain our online and multimedia training needs at the new JATC. The Computers and components engineered for us by Union Built PC were spot on! We spoke at length about the needs for our instructors and students to be on the web due to the new LMS and Blended learning programs being launched this year by the National Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee, and wanted to ensure we had enough in the way of bandwidth and networking flexibility to make it all happen.

“The system they designed was set up to be user friendly for students, instructors and the administration. We are pleased with the product, and the technical assistance we received from Union Built PC on this new building. As for training so far there have been no problems with staff picking up and using hardware and software supplied to us, and we expect to launch the new curriculum this Fall with no issues.”

– Lou Jiacopello, Assistant Training Director

“Local 351 along with our partners at NECA wanted our new JATC to be technologically advanced enough to maintain the new web based JATC curriculum today, and be prepared any future advancement that may come down the road. We had our new JATC cabled with 10gig, CAT 6A which is the best product we could obtain by today’s standards, but we knew the components at the end of those cables going to make the difference in the reliability of the network, but we needed an expert to listen to our needs and build us a network we could depend on; This is where Union Built PC came in.

“My business manager, Ed Gant was adamant we went with a company that we could not only rely for issues with hardware or software, but also someone who took the security of the JATC’s information and network as seriously as he did, Union Built PC has provided us with security, reliability, and peace of mind knowing they listened to our concerns and delivered what we expected. We are pleased with the service and product we have received to date and our JATC is up and running with both cabled and wireless networks, email for all instructors, and a server with Cloud backup, and Union Built PC designed it all based on what we verbally told them we wanted to achieve for the future of this JATC, and thanks to them we are ready for the future.”

– Dennis Kleiner, Business Agent IBEW Local 351

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