Successful organizing campaigns begin by having a strong employee organizing committee. A strong organizing committee is the foundation for creating a powerful, democratic and active union.
In an unorganized, or “non-unionized,” workplace:
- Workers have no voice in their working conditions
- Workers are afraid of speaking up to management for fear of being disciplined or worse losing their jobs
- Workers doubt that conditions will ever change for the better
- Workers become apathetic
These conditions lead to a divided workplace where the workers have no power.
When employees decide to organize a union, it is vital that a strong internal organizing committee be formed. Building an active internal organizing committee is not easy. It takes time, but it is necessary if you want to succeed—campaigns almost never succeed without them. This model of organizing builds the “union” before the actual election process has occurred.
During a union-organizing campaign, committee members are sought from every area of the workplace and should be representative of the diverse nature of the workers being organized. The committee will receive support, training, and all the needed resources from the MNA. The organizing committee will be the glue that holds the campaign together as the unionization process moves forward.
Committee members are the contacts for their work areas. They keep their co-workers up to date on union campaign news and answer any questions that come up during the process. In the workplace, they are up front and strong in their public support for the union. They are ready to answer questions that are almost always generated from management’s “misinformation”—because management will almost always try to create and peddle “misinformation” about what the organizing committee is doing and how it affects workers.
As the organizing campaign moves forward, the committee will help motivate and unify the members. It will interpret misinformation and signals from management and help guide employees to a better understanding of what really is happening in the workplace. The organizing committee is the foundation to a well organized workplace.
Heading into an election with a strong “union foundation” is the key to success. In an organized workplace the workers will finally attain power. They will have a legally protected voice that will enable them to address all their working conditions and their nursing practice issues. They will be active, hopeful and confident. They will be strong and united in their efforts to obtain their first contract with management. They will understand that they, the workers, ARE the union!
It should be noted that all the methods that the MNA employs in conducting a sound organizing drive remain applicable through the whole life of the union that’s been created.
The best contract in the world is just pieces of paper if there is not a strong unified well-led membership to enforce it. The process of building the union needs to be a continuous process that involves all the members.