Unions demonstrate the power of collective action. When workers join together, they gain the clout to get better wages and benefits, safe workplaces, world-class training and improved working conditions. On our own, we can’t make any of these gains.
That’s why OPCMIA and other unions are only as strong as our members are active. No individual officer or staffer can get much done without members who stand together in solidarity and who are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals.
Our union is what our members make of it. If you volunteer to serve on a collective bargaining committee, you force management to look you in the eye and listen to what you have to say. If you volunteer as a member organizer, you empower other workers to improve their lives and you increase union market share in our industries, which leads to stronger contracts. If you volunteer to call members of Congress about a key vote, to register your brothers and sisters to vote, or to get our members to the polls to support pro-worker candidates, you’re helping to win the policy changes we need to raise our standard of living and improve our quality of life.
And if you only have the time to attend the meetings of your Local Union, that’s making a vital contribution, too.
By contrast, doing nothing weakens our union.
Think of it this way: Being a union member is a little like joining a health club. You can pay your health club fees, but if you don’t show up and work out, you’re not going to lose weight. Similarly, you can pay your union dues, but if you don’t bother to get active and involved, your union won’t be as strong as it could or should be.
Unions don’t operate on autopilot. They have to be driven by members. It’s members who elect their officers and leaders, and members who set the agenda. It’s members who have to participate in organizing drives and legislative action. It’s members who have to spread the word about pro-worker candidates for office, and who have to register and vote.
The critic Alexander Woollcott once wrote, “I’m tired of hearing it said that democracy doesn’t work. Of course it doesn’t work. We are supposed to work it.”
The same applies to our union. It only works when our members work it.
The OPCMIA is your union. The more you put in, the more you’ll get back!
Daniel E. Stepano