Organizing through Communicating

Organizing through Communicating

Austin, TEX – The better a union communicates with the unorganized, the better its chances of growing. That idea was hammered home during the second day of the 2017 IAM Communications Conference in Austin, Texas. A panel of communicators revealed their best communication tools for organizing.

The fact that surprised a lot of delegates was that 96 per cent of text messages are read! Canadian Communications Representative Frank Saptel supported that figure with an example of using text messaging as a successful organizing tool. “I was approached by one of organizers of IAM District Lodge 78 who was seeking alternative methods of communicating with a decentralized work force,” explained Saptel. “These were patient transfer workers, both drivers and dispatchers. Due to the fact they were always on the road it was hard to communicate with them and the workers were worried about alerting the employer if they all gathered at a central location. When I asked do you have their cell phone numbers, the organizer said he did, so began to communicate our union story individually to each potential member through text messaging. The employer had no idea until it was too late.”

The successful campaign led to follow up organizing victories within the Patient Transfer sector and subsequent voluntary recognition by one employer as they continue to expand across Ontario.


Photo One: IAM Canadian Communications Representative Frank Saptel informs delegates of the success of using cell phone text messaging in a campaign to organize Patient Transfer workers in Ontario.

Photo Two: Ryan Price – Executive Director of the Independent Drivers Guild of New York and IAM Special Representative for Organizing – Gabrielle Rogano educate delegates on the value of various forms of communication to help organize workers. They gave the pros and cons to group messaging, mass e-mailing, social media, direct mail and text messaging.