Grassroots mobilization is one of the most effective tools at a union’s disposal. This has been proven effective time and time again.
While getting out the vote on Election Day is always important and is an often used example, grassroots action goes far beyond that one activity. Every labor fight needs membership support, whether it involves showing solidarity on a picket line, pushing the National Labor Relations Board to enforce worker protections, supporting labor-friendly local and state candidates and then holding them accountable, or helping spread the truth about what labor unions really stand for and how we benefit all workers.
These endeavors take many forms, from calling your legislators and voicing your concerns about an upcoming bill, to simply being conversant about the Labor Movement, to staffing a phone-bank for a pro-worker candidate, to participating in your local union meetings.
A recent example of the value of grassroots activity with extreme relevance to many of our MTD affiliates happened last year. Our Washington lobbyists picked up information that an amendment to eliminate the U.S.-build provisions within the Jones Act would be introduced to the defense appropriations bill that was being considered in Congress.
The MTD headquarters contacted each of the 18 Port Maritime Councils around the United States and urged them and their affiliates to call their local congressional offices – no matter their political affiliation – to defeat the proposed amendment. In less than four hours, Capitol Hill legislative staffers were contacting MTD and maritime lobbyists about the large number of calls their local offices had received, and to assure them should the amendment be offered, they were against it.
Because of the grassroots reach and reaction displayed in less than one day by the Port Maritime Councils, the anti-Jones Act amendment was pulled before it had a chance to see the chamber.
Union members reaching out to their families, friends and communities voted in droves last November for and against state measures that benefited all workers. For example, voters in Virginia rejected a proposed amendment that would have added a so-called “right-to-work” provision to the state constitution. Meanwhile, four states voted to increase their respective minimum wages, delivering the promise of a pay raise to more than two million workers in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington State.
And the fight goes on. Currently, our union brothers and sisters in Kentucky are challenging the “right-to-work” law the state legislature passed earlier this year. We fully support their fight against this unjust law, not only because of the threat to all union members in the commonwealth of Kentucky, but also because they would do the same for us.
It’s critical for workers to support issues and candidates who will support America’s working families – no matter the party affiliation. That encouragement starts at the grassroots level.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the MTD, its affiliates and its Port Maritime Councils will continue to support grassroots mobilizations that affect workers’ rights, including freedom of association; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that in an era of significant challenges facing the Labor Movement, one of our most important and most effective tools remains strength in numbers and the capacity to all pull together in the same direction to achieve our goals.
Passed 2017 MTD Convention