We have many locals throughout the country whose members are living in "right to work" states. These laws are designed to bust unions, drive down wages, and give more profits to corporations. Right to work laws make it harder to keep a strong active membership for our local unions. But despite these challenges, we have many locals that are doing an excellent job of keeping very high rates of membership in their local union in right to work states. One example of this great work is at Local 86004 in Kansas City, MO. The members at this local work at the GE Aviation Strother Field manufacturing plant, where they build engines for airplanes and helicopters. There are about 650 employees at the plant, and out of these workers, the local has a membership rate of about 90% membership. In the last few years, they have brought in about 130 new hires, and they have gotten nearly every one of these new employees to sign up as members to the union. We asked Local President Jake Aguinaga what they keys to their success are with keeping such a high rate of membership in the local. He attributes it to a few things, "the entire Local Executive Board works on the floor everyday and is visible and accessible to all the members.
I also speak to the members about our local being a partner with our employer and trying to build the relationship with them and through good business and becoming a partner rather than a hindrance." Jake also shared that he has a very active local mobilization team who are able to communicate with nearly the entire membership at a moment's notice, through their local mobilization structure. The local has cell phone numbers for almost all members, and they send out important text message alerts to the members to keep them informed and engaged. Member Josh Jacobs shared that he believes talking to the new hires right away and letting them know about the power of being in the local union is key - they also show all new hires the IUE-CWA new member video introducing them to the union.The other key to success: persistence - talking to all members about the union, even when you think they might not be interested. Local member Lisa Huster shared that she recently was able to sign up a member who she had been talking with for over 3 years about the union. He had been holding out, but then she found the sign up card in her toolbox, she was thrilled!