Why locals don’t try to increase membership

A very common response by local leaders to suggestions to increase membership is that this is merely an effort to get more money into the national’s treasury. These leaders correctly figure that, given the way they’ve been taught to represent their bargaining units, higher membership will not benefit either the leadership or the bargaining unit employees.

What this actually means is that these leaders have been mis-educated and misled. A local union cannot achieve the goals it ought to without the participation and support of a strong majority of the employees in the bargaining unit. With, say, 30% membership, the local is forced to settle for a role that is pathetically weaker than the labor-relations law originally presumed unions would play.

Until a local decides to bargain from a position of strength, and gets the training on how to do this, it probably does make sense to not make any effort to substantially increase the local’s membership.


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