Members mobilize workers for our future


SARATOGA SPRINGS — As we gear up to defend our rights, our best resource is you.

We are working to reach out to all of you, one by one, to strengthen our union. Many times, these efforts can start right in your local or unit.

Over the past couple of years, Herkimer County Local leaders have used the grassroots approach to reach out to every member.



Herkimer County Local President Beth Hall, along with CSEA Labor Relations Specialist Denise Campbell, detailed how the local strengthened their union during the “Each One Teach One: Mobilizing Workers Matters” workshop at our recent Statewide Women’s Conference.

“Our primary goal was to grow and improve our membership,” Hall said.

Hall and other local officers and activists and union staff turned the local office into an organization area similar to those used during member engagement visits to plan their strategy and keep track of important information.

The group started by determining whether CSEA-represented workers in the local’s 15 units were full members or agency fee payers. After sorting through the membership list, local officers, activists and CSEA staff “mapped” the local’s work sites. “We had to figure out which members work at what location,” Hall said.

Local officers worked to reach out to them through scheduling training sessions on union leadership skills such as steward, grievance and discipline and interrogation. They also scheduled monthly 45-minute “lunch and learn” sessions on numerous union-related topics. Hall said the local not only always included guest speakers, but agency fee payers.

“Information is key to converting agency fee payers to members,” Hall said.
Communication is another vital part of engaging our members. Local officers collected personal emails from members and launched a quarterly, online local newsletter.

The Herkimer County Local officers are also making it a priority to ensure they speak with every member through visiting every CSEA work site, as well as members’ homes. During these visits, the activists are urging members to sign cards pledging to never quit our union.

“You have to put the value [of our union]in real terms,” Hall said. “It’s really important to show our value, especially when you get the question ‘why should I care about CSEA?’”

— Janice Gavin




About Author

Janice Gavin is the editor of The Work Force and CSEA’s special interest publications. A graduate of SUNY Plattsburgh and Syracuse University, Gavin has been a journalist and public relations professional for more than 25 years. She worked as a newspaper reporter and bureau chief at the Plattsburgh Press-Republican, where she was honored with Associated Press and New York Newspaper Publishers Association awards. Gavin joined CSEA as a communications specialist in the union's Southern Region in 2000. In 2004, she became The Work Force's associate editor, a position she held until becoming the publication's editor in 2017. Growing up in a union household, she is dedicated to improving workers’ lives through telling their stories.

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