The whole point of an organizing campaign is to sign cards. Cards are not just a request for a vote or a show of support, they are a membership card in the union. Every card is confidential and information on the card should be treated as such. The act of signing a membership card in a union is an act of consciousness and courage and can lead to real repercussions for workers in the workplace.
The seriousness of treating cards is a good indicator of the seriousness of the union drive and the organizer.
Some things to remember about card signing:
- Always organize in pairs.
- Diversity of team is essential.
- Safety is an issue for anyone doing card signing. Especially in door-to-door campaigns or drives involving aggressive employers.
- Write down all relevant information.
- Do not be sneaky.
- If they ask, tell them what you are writing down.
- Ask who they know.
- Ask what they are hearing.
- Ask if they would be willing to talk to their fellow workers in the workplace.
- Record recruits and whether they have cards.
First time, last time
- Generally we have one chance to sign the card.
- Meet them anywhere they feel comfortable.
- Follow natural order of speaking to people.
- Leave with a signed card.
What makes an organizing conversation different from a chat?
- Have a purpose.
- Trying to move a worker on a position.
- Always have an ask.
A conversation: Steps
- Agitate on issues.
- Provide vision for the workplace. (Results, not theory.)
- The Ask.
A conversation: Things to remember
There are many strategies to get a signed card. Everyone has their own style, but there are some things that are common to every conversation:
- Listen, do not lecture.
- Keep eye contact, be polite.
- Ask questions to keep the conversation going.
- Stick to their interests, not ideology.
A conversation: Main issues
The main themes, in order of importance, to touch on in a conversation:
- Fairness, accountability, process, rules.
- Democracy in the workplace.
- Health and Safety.
- The union is support.
- A Collective Agreement is a legally binding contract agreed to by both sides.
A conversation: Answering “no”
- No or maybe: Always ask why?
- Objections: do not waste time.
- No answer: continue, but try to get an answer.
- Do not devalue their objection.
- Always steer back to their issues.
Activity 1: Everyone can be an organizer
Remember: Everyone can be an organizer.
- Every other person turn to your left and introduce yourself to that person.
Tell them why you are a unionist, why you are passionate about fighting for workers' rights and what event sealed it for you.
Ask them if they have any issue that might be solved by working together.