Solidarity Sunday: 5 Things to Think About When Recruiting & Organizing
I've spoken to six different building trade union organizations this summer and the refrain from each international office sounds familiar. "We need people. We must do a better job of attracting qualified people and filling job calls." Whether your organizers have a tool like Organize 24/7 or whether they are going it alone, one thing remains constant. There are no solutions. There are only trade-offs.
Here are 5 trade-offs to think about when organizing and recruiting (inspired by one of my favorite writers and best-selling author of "The Wizard of Ads", Roy H. Williams)
Individuals vs. The Masses - Masses of people are predictable. Individuals are not. The exception doesn't disprove the rule. A great organizer talks to individuals about the opportunities in your Local. A great mass marketing strategy can attract more of those ideal people, so that the organizer can be more efficient and effective at the individual level.
Story vs. Stats - Stats tell. But stories sell. That's true, but there's a time to deploy both. Using facts and figures about pay and benefits is most impactful after they know your story and can see themselves in it. Start with your story before they need you, and stats after they fall into the market for what you do. Remember, if they come to you for wages alone, they will leave you for wages alone.
Time vs. Money - People will not give you their money until they first give you their time. Generally speaking, the more something costs, the more time they'll spend contemplating the decision. A Journeyman working 40-50 hours a week, 50 weeks a year represents $2000-2500 for the Local, so what we are asking from potential members is not financially insignificant. Telling impactful stories with video in places they naturally spend lots of time before they need is likely to yield much better results when asking them to sign on the bottom line.
Emotional vs. Intellectual - People make decisions emotionally and rationalize them intellectually, not the other way around. We have great origin stories in every local union. Let's uncover and tell them. Use those stories to win the heart of those you want to attract, and the mind will follow. Besides, someone is telling your story, it might as well be you.
Opportunity vs. Security - The more you have of one, the less you have of the other. To grow our membership, we must take risk. You know what they say about doing the same thing and expecting a different result. There is no such thing as a "low risk - high reward" strategy.
Talking to Your Contractors
We often talk about the benefits of being a union member, but how often do we tell the story of the benefits of being a union contractor?