OYSTER BAY — Town of Oyster Bay Local executive board members have been working nonstop at keeping our union strong by asking members to complete membership applications as a way to recommit themselves to CSEA and to show corporate interests groups that their union busting tactics won’t work.
“We started to discuss our plan when we found out that Janus case was being heard,” said Oyster Bay Local President Jarvis “Tim” Brown. “I felt it would be very powerful to go out and speak to our members and give them an opportunity to make a true commitment to stick with CSEA by re-signing an application.”
“None of this would have been possible without my team buying into the plan,” said Brown. “With a membership of more than 1,000 [people], you can’t reach everyone alone.”
Local board members spent several months educating members on the details of the Janus case and the advantages of union membership, as well as what members could lose if membership drops.
“You have to make the conversation personal,” said Brown. “Remind members that it’s not all about money. Benefits like negotiated time off and sick leave are really what makes these jobs.”
Relationships are crucial
With the consent from Oyster Bay town officials to use town time, the local board held worksite meetings, lasting 20 to 30 minutes, concerning the importance of staying union strong.
“Building relationships is a key component to this union movement,” said Brown. “You’re not going to be successful if you don’t have an open dialogue with management and the membership.”
“It’s because of Jarvis’s relationship building skills that we can negotiate having worksite meetings on [employer]time,” said Oyster Bay Local Executive Vice President Betsy Healey. “We know every member’s name and about their lives outside of work. You have to establish trust so when you go to speak to members about important issues, it’s not like they’re talking to a stranger.”
Post Janus, the local board’s conversations with our members haven’t changed.
“We believe that you have to go out and talk with your members, every day,” said Brown. “What makes us so successful is that we keep going; we never stop talking with our members about how important it is to stay union.”
Local board members feel that our union must be a 24/7 operation in order to be successful. So, if board members are unable to reach certain members during the day, they go out to speak with them during their free time.
“On our way home or over the weekend, we’ll stop at one of the departments to communicate with our members,” said Brown. “In order to be effective, we have to be reachable and willing to meet our members at the drop of a dime.”
Their efforts are working — the majority of local members are sticking with our union.
— Wendi Bowie