2020 Year in Review – Part 3
Connecting with Members in Different and Lasting Ways
Our Union is stronger when we stay together. However, in just a handful of days this past March, nearly 75% of state workers became teleworkers, and just as suddenly making connections with our represented members became significantly more challenging, ushering in the first of many new realities we would face in 2020.
But with challenges come opportunities, and through a variety of means, we made sure that the evolving needs of our members were met, and that they knew their Union was working to ensure their hard-earned contract rights were enforced.
Member Surveys take the pulse of the workers we represent
Understanding member experiences and attitudes amidst the COVID-19 induced chaos was critical in shaping how Local 1000 represented its members and provided us with key knowledge we regularly applied to our dealings with the State. And the participation of thousands of members in three different surveys in the early months of the pandemic set the stage for our later success.
Following President Yvonne R. Walker’s mandate to for immediate member engagement to capture our members’ experiences, our first effort looked at changes in the workplace in the face of COVID-19. Overall, we heard from 5,500 members in 113 departments, who expressed optimism and openness to change even in the face of challenges. A majority of our members were in favor of remote work and told us that their department was supportive. Even more helpful was the feedback they provided regarded the new challenges they faced, from getting the right tools to internet access to childcare.
During side letter negotiations, we engaged more than 4,000 members in 103 departments to solicit cost-savings ideas, which our bargaining team then used to develop proposals. Those ideas are still being received and still providing invaluable insights to our Cost Savings Task Force team as they work to identify $200 million in savings to be redirected to employee compensation.
In July we once again reached out to learn more about how departments were complying with safety protocols to protect and mitigate from the coronavirus. More than 6,000 members responded, and we learned that while some departments were doing well with social distancing, PPE, masks, and sanitizing, others were not. With this data in hand, we were quickly able to discern that safety protocols are worksite-specific, even within the same department.
Racial Justice – an ongoing, important conversation
While racial tensions steadily escalated during the past national administration, the May 25, 2020, murder of George Floyd was a tipping point. Led by President Walker, Local 1000 launched an ongoing series of weekly Zoom meetings to create a space for members and staff to be able to process, reflect, and share their feelings. It’s an ongoing forum for our leaders and members to strengthen our resolve to dismantle structural racism and another way we are working to fulfill the Local 1000 Purpose Statement and provide social, economic, and environmental justice for All Californians.
Member-to-Member program connects workers, develops leaders
Our Member-to-Member program has two facets: connecting workers and developing leaders through the Leadership Development and New Member Program, continuing programs with 26 Local 1000 members doing the work.
The pandemic caused some pivots, with both teams involved in outreach calls to ensure our members understood their rights granted by the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Doing so meant engaging in more than 19,000 conversations.
The Member-to-Member program also played a significant role in facilitating the flow of information during side letter negotiations.
To date, we have identified more than 18 leaders throughout the state and are working with them to develop their leadership and conversation skills, and to provide the know-how to engage their fellow members and build union power.