Our training on “my union is not for sale” was funny, very engaging and showed that you can’t push your contract on the nonunion worker. There is a careful balance between taking pride in what we have and educating a worker on the principles of collective bargaining. You can’t just pull out your contract and show a non-union worker what you have. We wish it was that simple, but it’s not. Workers are so distrusting they don’t believe what we have for the most part, and they are convinced by their company that there is a catch to it that will cost them what they have. It is pounded into them from the date of hire. As an example look at UPS and Fed Ex. In some cases there is a more than $10 per hour difference between the two, not including benefits and pension. Why isn't every Fed Ex worker kicking down the union hall’s door? Fear, misinformation and distrust all pounded into their psyche from day one, along with all the negative media attention and twisting of the truth. Our breakout sessions and role plays started with what not to do. Participants had the opportunity to fill all the stereotypical roles and let it fly with empty promises. The entire room was laughing so hard you could barely hear the exercise. The next round of breakouts was based on one-on-ones and how not to fall into the selling trap. Participants used the prior example of what not to do as that helped them move towards explaining the basics of collective bargaining.
Teaching conquering fear in a training session helps our members understand what non-union workers go through in an organizing campaign in addition to identifying how the emotion of fear creates bad decisions. The one common issue that stops workers from organizing in every campaign is fear. Fear is based on misinformation, intimidation and misunderstandings with a purposeful strategic push from their employer to make the workers think they will lose what they have. Once fear has settled in and the worker is convinced of some negative emotion attached to the union, it is hard to overcome— but not impossible. The training shows that once a worker overcomes their fear it usually turns into a positive action. A participant commented “This training and others like this have prepared me for the unexpected..... mainly because most of what I have faced (in organizing) has been unexpected”. The employer takes every negative angle it can and relentlessly pushes them down the workers’ throats until they can’t take anymore. As a result of this tactic the worker wants to relieve the pressure by making the organizing drive go away. The company and union-busting consultants attempt to make the union look like we applied the pressure and it’s the Teamsters’ fault. Inoculation, good information and asking open-ended questions conquer their fear and brings them to a point where they see the manipulation from the company. Inoculation prepares them for what the company will do and predicts the union-busters’ moves. Asking good, open-ended questions gets you to the root of what created the fear then, information gets them past it. Another participant commented “I was so glad I attended! It was worth the sacrifice because it renewed my belief in the importance of organizing.”
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