Change is inevitable; it happens whether we want to change or not and it can bring out strong emotions. Some people are very resistant to change, which is understandable as there is comfort in the familiar. But change can take many forms.
Change of Direction
Organizational change is a normal part of the democratic process. As an example, earlier this year the SEIU Local 1000 membership voted to elect a new president. After 13 years the membership wanted change. We can all speculate why this happened, but the “why” is not important. The fact is a majority of dues paying members who voted wanted a change in leadership.
While resistance to change is a natural human reaction, defiance to change in an organization like SEIU Local 1000 can be problematic. The problems within our labor organization have been written about and discussed on numerous forums, negating the need to travel that same ground again.
However, we do need to make one very critical distinction as it relates to change at Local 1000. There is a small group within the Board of Directors who are very resistant to change and are desperately trying to return to the status quo. Within six weeks of the election, they made a personal assessment that the membership was incorrect in the election and a change in leadership was not warranted.
Change Out of Necessity
We find ourselves in an entirely new dynamic since the onset of COVID-19. For many of our union brothers and sisters, the way we work, where we work, and how we interact have all changed. Old processes have been forced to adjust to this new environment; accordingly, we must recognize that continuing to cling to the status quo no longer provides any benefit to our organization or its represented employees.
Recently, the statewide leadership correctly assessed the organizational model that had been used for years to attract new members is no longer applicable in this new paradigm. As a result, SEIU Local 1000 is working to change to a representational model by providing new resources and training to strengthen and grow our union once again. More importantly, this means members can expect their union to support and represent them in the workplace.
A quote often attributed to Albert Einstein states, “The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” SEIU Local 1000 President Richard Louis Brown recognizes that if we are to survive as a viable organization we must adapt to this new environment. Failing to alter our approach or desperately clinging to the status quo is not an option.
The amount of time and energy being expended in resisting progress, fighting change, and vetoing the membership vote is not change—it’s simply counter-productive. And we no longer can afford to cling to a perspective that seeks to drag our members and our organization downward.
Change challenges us to evolve and improve and forces us to adapt and problem solve. We must develop new ideas and strategies to meet the challenges and not shrink when faced with change. President Brown is creating a new culture in our union, one that is built on positive energy, a positive direction, and an openness to change.
Welcome to a new day.