Unsure of where to point young workers to in your area to connect with each other? Try this state list, which allows visitors to enter their zip code and find out what group is nearest.
This is a report on young worker groups connected to the central labor councils in Baltimore, Boston, Denver, Rochester, San Francisco and San Jose, and the state federations of labor in Massachusetts and Oregon. A university-based research team worked closely with the AFL-CIO’s Young Worker Outreach Program in conducting this study.
Aimed at young workers themselves, this toolkit is designed to support the development of newly formed young worker groups and to provide guidance to existing groups. It includes examples of how to write a mission statement, recruit new members, decide on an organizational structure and create a plan of action.
The UFCW has always been a union with many young workers. Involving younger members is therefore key to building our union.
Some locals have formed young worker committees, while others have held events tailored to the interests and ideas of younger members.
Often, campaigns geared toward younger workers—such as collecting members’ cell phone numbers for texting and/or reaching out to them via social media (facebook, twitter, Instagram, etc)—have led to greater interaction with workers of all ages.
Bringing workers of different ages together around a specific campaign (bargaining, worksite issue, electoral, legislative) is a great way to break down divisions. By experiencing the work of a campaign together, members will come to appreciate one another’s ’ skills and perspectives.
Ask veteran members to think back to how they first became involved. Chances are, they were invited, encouraged and recruited. Suggest that they do the same with young workers today.
Examine the local’s common practices (such as parliamentary procedure at meetings) and discuss ways that these could be adapted to be accessible to younger members.
Find ways for more experienced members to mentor recent hires—not only on the job, but also within our union. And consider the ways that mentoring can be a two-way process, with the younger workers providing feedback as well.
Perhaps most importantly—find out what younger workers are interested in; engage in conversations about our union’s efforts around wages, benefits and working conditions, as well as our involvement in the broader movement for economic and social justice.
With union membership in a decades-long decline, recruiting a new generation of workers is crucial to keeping labor alive. Yet young workers are (and always have been) less likely to be in a union than their older counterparts: As of 2012, only 9.5 percent of 25-34 year old workers and 4.2 percent of 16-24 year old workers were union members, compared to 11.3 percent of all workers.
At the same time, nearly two-thirds of 18–29-year olds have a favorable impression of unions, more than any other age bracket. The time is ripe for labor leaders to bring the next generation into the fold.
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