Strengthening Member Activist Networks Through Political Engagement Checklist
- How will you recognize and appreciate political volunteers/leaders?
- How will you let everyone in our union (including those who weren’t very involved) know about the impact of our union’s political work? How will you celebrate?
- How can leaders who emerged through political work continue to be involved with the work of our union? How can staff and others coordinate to make this possible?
- How can longer term union activists (stewards, executive board members, etc.) connect with poltical volunteers who are newer to the scene?
- How might you utilize opportunities for education (stewards’ training, member meetings, etc.) to impress upon others the importance of ‘keeping it going’?
- How will you recognize and appreciate the volunteers who aren’t members of our union?
- How will you debrief the coalition piece of the political campaign? Who will be included?
- How can members of our union who, through the course of the political campaign, became interested in a particular community group and/or issue stay involved with their work? How might ‘their’ work become (more clearly) ‘our’ work?
- How can members and other volunteers become more involved in our union’s ongoing community coalitions? How can newly emerged activists contribute to making more coalition work possible?
You Can Lobby
We all lobby all the time. Whether it is lobbying to convince a friend to see a certain movie, a child to clean their room, a manager to settle a grievance–we all lobby to get things we want. We list the arguments for our position, we point out the problems with the other side’s arguments, we enlist the help of those who are more powerful in the situation and we use our own position of power in the situation to get our way. All of this is lobbying. All are techniques we use to lobby our elected officials.
Visiting With Your Legislator
Visiting your legislator is probably the most effective way to influence him/her. Remember that legislators are really busy, so you’ll need to be flexible. You should limit the meeting to a discussion of one or two issues.
It is a good idea to have more than one person at the meeting. Keep the atmosphere of the meeting friendly. You are there to exchange ideas. It is sometimes just as important to know why a legislator opposes your position as it is to know that the legislator supports your position.
Leave literature for the legislator (either on the issue or general information about your organization). This will serve as a reminder of your visit and the issue.
Follow up the visit with a thank you note and perhaps more information on your issue. If the legislator asked for certain information be sure you get back to the legislator with that information. Remember that the main objective of your contact is to establish an ongoing relationship with your legislator and establish yourself (and any organization with which your are affiliated) as a reliable source of information.
Be sure to take notes on the main points covered in the meeting. Keep a copy for your records and be sure to send a copy to any organization with which your are affiliated that is lobbying the issue.