By Gus Ostrum, Trades & Union Staff
Members of Sheet Metal Workers Local 19 turned out by the dozens on Saturday, January 28 to participate in a workshop that promoted a familiar but critical message pertinent to their working careers – and the message was delivered loud and clear by a trio of experienced pro-union educators.
Participating in the workshop at the Local 19 headquarters in South Philadelphia were South Jersey attorney Lynda Hinkle, local government affairs expert David Spector, and former Camden County Freeholder and radio personality Tom Gurick.
A sample of topics covered by the trio of speakers to the Local 19 members included the following:
- Types of political and community offices that need local participants.
- How to fund raise and declare your platform if you do decide to run for political office.
- How to use social media and other communications channels to deliver your union’s message in an effective manner.
- How to mobilize potential voters in your community
- How to handle crisis management situations if you do hold an elected office.
- A list of other organizations that need community involvement (such as Rotary, Lions Clubs, youth sports leagues etc.) and how this involvement benefits unions.
- Union resources that are available to assist members who are considering running for local offices.
“There are many ways to get involved, and a grassroots effort helps union members get the conversation started on projects that are beneficial to all of us,” said Spector, Director of Government Affairs for Hinkle Law.
“Usually when we make a presentation like this to our union members, their reaction is: “Hey, I had no idea that I could get involved and have a say in the process. Quite often, we only hear about our federal legislators, and we don’t realize we could be running for local offices such as a town council or a school board position.”
Spector points out that civic participation is a boon to members and their unions for a variety of reasons, including a stronger voice in local activities, encouraging higher levels of voter participation, and the chance to engage in the democratic process, not to mention the opportunity to assist community members in need.
“The strongest unions and their members are the ones who are involved in their communities, there’s no question about it,” said Spector. “We encourage our local union members to take a chance, become involved. And your officials at your unions will be available to provide you the resources you need to succeed.”
Michael Guinan, Business Agent for Sheet Metal Workers International Association Local 19 in South Philadelphia, helped to organize the workshop for his members and gave a thumbs up to the presentations by Spector, Hinkle and Gurick.
“We want to promote the message of getting involved and staying involved,” said Guinan in an interview. “Both the union member and the union itself will benefit. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get our message out and to let the public know our points of view.
“We also want the public to see all of the great community involvement we engage in. Many times our members are out helping local families or veterans, and we need to promote all of these positive activities.”
If you would like to learn more about how you and your union can become involved on a local level, contact David Spector at email@example.com.