AFSCME Wisconsin Members Mobilizing with Teletownhalls

by Joe Lawrence  |  February 21, 2012

They’re phoning it in and it’s making them stronger. AFSCME members from across Wisconsin are joining together in teletownhall meetings to discuss anti-worker attacks and effective ways to fight back.

Council 24 held a teletownhall recently in advance of the state issuing sweeping changes in the personnel system that could negatively affect membership. Members discussed what the changes might bring and what needed to be done to prepare. As a result, scores of members volunteered to recruit new members, and many more signed up to work on the recall of Gov. Scott Walker.

A Council 40 teletownhall dealt with a string of victories achieved since Walker’s collective bargaining rights grab. In this new venue, member action has helped save hundreds of jobs, fight privatization, protect health care and preserve workplace rights.

“This is a new ballgame,” Sec.-Treas. Lee Saunders told callers on one of the recent calls. “But you’ve adapted. You’re writing a new chapter for our union, and inspiring AFSCME members across the country. We’re standing with you. The nation is watching you. Keep fighting.”

Council 40 member Christine Kistner told callers how she and members across the state were able to defeat a privatization plan that would have wiped out hundreds of income maintenance jobs. “It was a grassroots effort, led by the members,” said Kistner, a member of Local 1240 and council vice president. “You can’t make change sitting on the sidelines.”

Another piece of legislation threatening hundreds of county highway worker jobs was killed after members sent 2,000 emails and made countless phone calls.

These teletownhalls are yielding not only discussion of strategy, but spurred recruitment of new membership and increased participation on union Facebook pages – an effective tool for membership mobilization.

AFSCME has also developed an iPad application to help organizers record member signups in an efficient, organized and secure manner. The app, specifically designed to comply with current Wisconsin law, allows members to provide critical contact information and renew their recurring PEOPLE contributions to ensure this summer’s recall campaigns and the November elections in Wisconsin are well-funded and victorious.

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