We have all known someone who only comes around when things are going good, or always there during happier times.  And when life gets difficult or you need a shoulder to lean on, they cannot be found.  We call those folks fair-weather friends, right?  They don’t stick around when times get tough.  

In my experience here at Local 1500, we have also seen the opposite happen far too often.  What is the opposite of a fair-weather friend you ask?  Although on the surface it would seem that this would be a better situation, it is not the best of circumstances either.  A foul-weather friend can be someone who only shows up when the situation is critical, or dire.  But you never see them in the good times.  How is that a bad thing?  Thank you for asking…

When we have difficult news to deliver, or for example when contract talks have broken down and it’s time to update the membership about how bad negotiations are going, we have historically gotten our biggest turnouts at meetings.  That is a very good thing.  People want to hear what’s going on and how it will potentially impact them.  People want to know how close we could be to going out on strike and they definitely show up in droves for a strike authorization vote.  And from my perspective, I love to see large numbers of members getting together and sticking together.  I love to see the same interest in many people that are fighting alongside each other for the best contract they can get.  The loudest message we can send to your employers is one of a collective, determined group of employees that want to see change and want it now.  That is how you move mountains.  It’s true that your Union is stronger in numbers but is only as strong as its weakest link.

That last sentence is what concerns me.  When things are apparently going well, we see attendance, and/or involvement dwindle, and that should not be the case.  There are many, somewhat smaller battles that our membership faces on a daily basis, and we need just as much support for them as the we do the big problems.  However, it seems if something is not a – directly related to them, DEFCON 2 – level situation, then folks are just not as willing to get involved.  

What can we do to change this fact?  Because the truth of the matter is that our Union business never really dies down. There is always something happening, or brewing someplace, where we can use membership involvement to see through to the best possible outcome there.  What I am saying is that we need the same level of involvement or commitment on a more regular basis as if we were taking a strike vote at your particular company and you needed to be there to make sure you were a part of it.  But just because we need your involvement, doesn’t mean it is always for a negative or problematic event.  

We attend many events that are necessary, or even fun, where your participation would help us see it through to the best possible outcome.  Take our blood drives, for example.  With the size and scope of our membership, it should not be as difficult as it is to get our membership, your family, or your friends to sign up and come through to donate a pint of blood.  It’s actually a critical situation in New York, and your involvement would literally save lives.  Talk about strength in numbers, right?

Every year we hold several fundraising events, of which the proceeds go to a number of charities that are important to our members.  From bowling nights, to comedy shows, to hockey ticket raffles, to baseball games, to fishing trips, and I can go on and on but, we hold fundraisers and seek to get our membership involved with them.  Every one of these events are critically important to raise awareness, and especially money to help people who are in need.  And in many cases, people you know or are related to can use the very help from you that we are seeking.  The next time your Representative contacts you or posts a notice about a fundraiser, or you see it on our social media, I want you to get involved.

The annual New York City Central Labor Council Labor Day parade is a gigantic event that shuts down a large portion of the City so that we can all march together and show our Union pride and strength.  It really is a fun event.  We always want to show the thousands of people lining the streets Local 1500’s presence, and you might even be able to ride on our float (if the kids will let you!).  Please consider joining us this year.  It’s on Saturday September 9th.  

We have had several successful organizing drives over the past two years, and huge kudos to our organizing team, but if you want your Union to grow and become even more dynamic, strong, and effective, we need your participation.  I know that you know of someone whose work situation could use a serious makeover.  You do not live in a bubble or with blinders on, so think about it for a second and then talk to them and then talk to us.  I know this is not the easiest conversation to have and not every lead turns into a campaign or a victorious one for that matter.  But if you don’t try, then they might not try, and their job experience will never get the renovation it needs.  If you know someone that could really benefit by unionizing their job, don’t just listen to them complain, I want you to help them.  

We hold quarterly General Membership Meetings, where we give our members a state-of-the-Union address, which covers most if not all of the things that are happening with your Union and neighboring Unions and industries.  This is important information that affects your job.  As I just stated, these meetings only happen four times each year.  They are planned out so far in advance that it is easy, really, really easy to put them in your calendar and show up.  Just look at the back cover of this newsletter to see the dates of the upcoming meetings.  

We often attend city or town planning meetings or hearings where we need to show up in force to either support a project that benefits our members or stand up against a project that is aimed to potentially hurt our membership.  If a non-union competitor was looking to build or open a location right down the street from your job or home and it would negatively impact your life,  wouldn’t you want to have a say about it?  Well guess what, you do.  You can attend one of these meetings with us and let your opinions be heard.

How do you get involved?  Reach into your wallet and pull out your representative’s business card.  Or go to the bulletin board in your worksite and write down or scan the information on how to contact us.  Or, again, when you get to the end of this issue of the Advocate, you will see our contact information on the back page.  Call or email us and see what upcoming events are in your area that you can help us out with.  

Not everything we do is an emergency or as profound as a strike vote, however, just about everything we do is important and needs to have as much member support as possible.  As such, the same level of priority should be given to each one of our events.  Don’t just get together when things are really bad.  Let’s get together every time we call on you, and I guarantee you we can move any mountain that stands in our way.