Recruitment is the lifeblood of any Union, and the VSEA recognizes that our member leaders are the first point of contact for potential members. The more public service workers who choose to join the VSEA, the more effectively the VSEA can represent its members.
Put simply– there is strength in numbers.
The VSEA has continually invested in recruitment, and the steady growth of our membership is proof of the recruitment efforts made by all VSEA members. The importance of continuing this work cannot be overstated. Successful Union recruitment will ensure that all workers across the state are properly represented, both now and in the future.
To assist you in the area of recruitment, the VSEA has produced this webpage which sets out the reasons why workers across the state should join the Union, along with some sample responses to objections you might encounter.
The intention is that this information should remain with VSEA members for reference purposes.
Your Role In Recruitment
As a VSEA member, you have a key role to play in your Union’s recruitment strategy. You are your Union’s “eyes and ears” on the ground and will usually be the first point of contact for potential members who have just commenced employment with the state of Vermont. To operate effectively as a Union and to ensure proper representation for its members, the VSEA must be well organized on the ground and recruit workers as soon as they begin employment.
There are a number of people available should you need advice about your role as a member leader. Your local Chapter President or any VSEA Council member can assist you with any information you need and can be a very useful resource given their knowledge of your worksite climate. Staff at VSEA headquarters in Montpelier can also provide you with the resources you need to carry out your role effectively. Your Union has a team of trained Organizers who can advise you on how to carry out recruitment campaigns, e.g. assistance with training and providing supporting materials.
VSEA Steward Program
A Steward is a respected worksite leader who represents all co-workers fairly, solves problems, identifies and acts on members’ concerns, builds the Union, protects the contract and continually grows stronger in their role as Steward.
The VSEA Steward Program includes a series of trainings focused on the worksite and contract challenges facing members and state employees. The Steward is one of the most important roles in the Union. It is critical for Stewards to engage in continued training and to build relationships and coordinate efforts with other Stewards, member-leaders, and staff. Together we build a stronger VSEA and provide better representation to the workers who provide important state services for the public good.
What Is Involved In Being A VSEA Leader?
The role consists of two key elements, namely:
- RECRUITMENT is an essential function of a VSEA member leader and one that ensures the overall strength of your Union. As new workers are assigned to your area, introduce yourself as a VSEA member leader, outline the benefits of membership and ensure the new staff member completes an application form. It is also important that VSEA member leaders highlight the important role all members have to play in recruitment. Remember that everyone can be a recruiter, not just VSEA member leaders and union activists.
- COMMUNICATIONS: Correspondence for your department will be sent to you, and it will be your responsibility to circulate this to VSEA members. Updating your worksite union bulletin board is essential!
Furthermore, your Union would like to hear of any developments in the workplace as they take place and how many people in your place of work will be affected. As VSEA member leaders, you are ideally situated to let your Union know exactly what is happening as it happens.
Potential Objections & Suggested Response:
The cost is too high!
- Dues costs $18.00 per pay period and are tax deductible.
- Non-members who need representation at work will have to pay up to $350 per hour for the same level of representation that VSEA offers.
- The value-added benefits of your Union such as discounted travel, car and health insurance mean that you can save more money than you pay in Union dues.
- Today’s employment market is ﬂexible and constantly changing. Job security is not something that can be taken for granted. Can you afford not to be in a Union?
- VSEA members receive advice and guidance on employment rights; they also receive individual representation in disciplinary and grievance matters.
- Your Union aims to improve members’ terms and conditions of employment, and improve wages. The benefits of VSEA membership far outweighs any cost of membership.
I don’t need a Union.
- It is a proven fact that it is easier to protect your rights at work if you are part of a large group, i.e. a Union, than you are on your own – particularly in the current economic climate.
- The VSEA offers individual services in the form of legal advice, reclassification support, and labor relations representation should members need this.
- A reminder too that many supervisors themselves are members of VSEA. This shows how relevant Unions are across the career spectrum.
It would hinder my career.
- It is your constitutional legal right to join a Union.
- It is illegal for your employer to victimize or discriminate against you for being a member of a Union.
- VSEA members represent people at every level in the public sector from new hires to senior supervisors.
I am a supervisor. I can’t join a Union.
- It is your constitutional legal right to join a Union.
- Your Union has vast experience representing Supervisory grades and recognizes that sometimes the needs of supervisors are different than other workers. VSEA has negotiated agreements on behalf of our Supervisory members.
- Quite often the first targets for organizational restructuring are Supervisory grades. Your Union can give you a voice in the workplace.
- Supervisors are entitled to the same benefits as all workers. Your Union ensures that all of our members receive their legal and contractual entitlements.
I’ll get the same benefits anyway!
- Only VSEA members get to vote on changes being proposed by their employer. People who choose not to join VSEA have no vote, no voice and cannot inﬂuence change.
- By not joining, you are weakening VSEA’s position and are simply taking advantage of the work and contributions of your colleagues to protect and improve their workplace.
- Only a strong Union can ensure benefits for everyone.
- Only VSEA members get the benefits of Union membership such as the member support fund and the value added benefits such as discounted health insurance, travel insurance, car insurance and discounted hotel offers.
I was in a union before and they let me down.
- Your Union is a well-organized, proactive, vibrant organization; all of our representatives can be easily accessed locally.
- We treat all issues that are raised in a professional and confidential manner.
- Your Union is structured so that each issue raised by our members is brought to conclusion.
I don’t like Unions.
- All workers in United States enjoy benefits that have been negotiated by the labor movement over decades. These include the right to a minimum wage, health and safety legislation, paid holidays, equality at work, the right to challenge a dismissal, pensions, the five-day work week plus regular pay increases.
- The VSEA is an organization run by the members and for the benefit of the members in the public sector. It exists for your benefit. It is your Union.
Unions only cause trouble.
- The VSEA is an experienced public sector Union that has a proven track record of conducting its business in a professional manner.
- Your Union works in partnership with employers to attempt to resolve as many issues as possible in an amicable and productive fashion. Where disagreements occur, it is important to remember that the Union is serving the best interest of its members.
- It is the members who decide the appropriate action in the event of a dispute arising.
- In the event of a dispute, your Union always uses and respects the mechanisms of the Grievance Procedure, the Vermont Labor Board (VLRB) and the Vermont Supreme Court.
I haven’t heard much about the Union.
- Generally, VSEA communications are sent only to members.
- The VSEA has more than 6,000 members in the public sector. We have our own website (VSEA. org), newsletter, Facebook, and Twitter pages.
- Many individual issues are resolved in a low-key manner for the benefit of members.
The Union is not relevant to my life.
- All workers covered by VSEA collective bargaining agreements enjoy benefits that have been negotiated for them by VSEA members over decades. These include the right to a minimum wage, leave accruals, health and safety legislation, paid holidays, equality at work, retirement, the right to challenge discipline, pensions, the five-day work week, plus regular pay increases.
- Your Union is relevant in every way to your working life, whether you realize it or not.
Management will do whatever they want anyway.
- The VSEA has ensured that the State must consult with your Union on a range of issues that affect all workers.
- In addition, there are legal obligations on the State to inform and consult workers on big changes that affect their working conditions. The VSEA has vast experience negotiating change agreements in the public sector.
I’m only… a part-timer, on probation, or on a temporary contract…
- Workers who are limited service, part time or on probation are at greater risk of having their rights infringed upon and as such should be the first to join a Union.
- It is important to VSEA that the voices of all workers are represented regardless of employment status.
The VSEA is moving from being a service Union to an organizing Union. Every member is a recruiter. Organizing is the lifeblood of any Union.
Union activists must be aware of the changes that are occurring in public sector employment. Many workers are not organized and suffer exploitation because they are unaware of their employment rights. The challenge for the VSEA is to reach out to these workers and be relevant to their needs.
As a member leader, you should encourage every member in your area to actively participate in the recruitment of new staff. It might be the case that, particularly in bigger departments, you will not have immediate access to new staff. In these instances, it is important that a VSEA member is encouraged to recruit where possible. Outlined below are some reasons why everyone has a part to play.
Good Reasons To Recruit
As a VSEA member, recruiting new members can be rewarding in many ways:
- You are making a valuable contribution to your Union’s strength;
- The more members that sign on, the more collective bargaining power we have working on your behalf;
- You are giving your colleagues the opportunity to talk about the numerous benefits of membership, such as supplemental insurance benefts and discounts on various products and services; and
- Approaching a new employee to join the Union may be a good opportunity to get to know them better.
There is a very simple reason to join VSEA – Union members are better off. They are better off financially by virtue of enjoying better rates of pay. This fact was most recently confirmed by the Economic Policy Institute, which found that Unionized workers consistently enjoy higher pay than those in non-Union workplaces. Unionized workplaces also enjoy better working conditions, with individual Unions frequently negotiating benefits for members that are over and above the statutory, legal minimum.
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