Keep the inspiration alive



Shop Steward Educational Conference renews excitement

Last week we wrapped up our 2019 Shop Steward Educational Conference, and it couldn’t have been a more successful few days. Between our hard-working staff and special guests, we had a wide range of classes covering Weingarten Rights, healthcare, organizing, communications and more.

I’m proud to say I think many of our shop stewards left this seminar feeling inspired and prepared to take some new information and new energy back into their workplace.

Stewards remain a critical part of the Local 655 family. They are the boots on the ground. They are the eyes and ears of the Local in their workplace. Good stewards can assist their coworkers with contract issues, push back against management overreach and help their union family stay up-to-date on any new developments.

When stewards are equipped with the tools they need – like a firm understanding of their contract, or information on how to handle problems between coworkers and managers — they can make a massive difference in their workplace.

There’s a trend we sometimes see with conferences. We attend a good conference and we leave energized, educated and chomping at the bit to do new things. We feel inspired and excited. Then, a few hours or days or weeks later, the energy fades. It turns out we were inspired, but only for that moment.

Then the moment passes and we go back to the way things have always worked.

Unfortunately, we see this too often in Organized Labor. Too often victory or success is treated as the final stop on the journey, and we don’t take our momentum into something new. This isn’t a problem for Local 655 or our stewards; it’s something that has happened across the Labor Movement for far too long.

A few weeks ago, more than 1,600 hard-working men and women participated in our opening contract meeting live telephone town hall conference calls. That is more than double the number that participated in our in-person opening contract meetings just three years ago.

Is it a sign that more of our partners are engaged and committed to a better contract? Yes. Is it a sign that our partners are fired up? Yes. Is it a level of energy we can lose far too quickly if we allow it? Yes.

We can’t afford to be inspired for a few days or hours. We can’t afford to have people only inspired for the moment. I made a promise to our stewards, and I make the same one to all our partners and the Labor Movement as a whole: the day I stop being inspired, I’ll find some other line of work.

I’m inspired every day. The staff of Local 655 is inspired every day. Their energy and enthusiasm for their work is proof of that, and there are some of us in the leadership of the Labor Movement who can match that same level of energy.

But we must have it in our rank-and-file union partners as well. We can’t just be inspired. We have to stay inspired. We have to remember what we are capable of and what tremendous things we have accomplished just recently.

Our hard-working partners must stay inspired not just because of what we have done, but also because of what we are capable of doing. I promise if we stay inspired, we will accomplish remarkable things.


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