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Becoming AFSCME Strong One Door at a Time

After an intensive AFSCME Strong training session, AFSCME Florida leaders across North Florida are taking lessons they learned back to their fellow members.
By Mark McCullough ·
Becoming AFSCME Strong One Door at a Time

After an intensive AFSCME Strong training session, AFSCME Florida leaders across North Florida are taking lessons they learned back to their fellow members.

One of those leaders is Tad Lewek, a plan examiner with the City of Jacksonville’s Building Inspection Division and a member of AFSCME Local 1279. He says he often hears the same problems other leaders report across the county: that the union hasn’t reached out to members individually, that members don’t know how to find information about what’s going on, and that when AFSCME does reach out it may not always be when they are able to participate.

“The problems we face in terms of being spread thin are not unique, so we hoped that an old-fashioned blitz would change things up,” he says. “This way we can have more conversations and jump-start growth at some sites.”

The blitz, held in early May, was a success. Dozens of members and staff spent the week knocking on doors, visiting worksites and having as many face-to-face conversations as possible. AFSCME has a long history in the city and the potential to represent a large number of workers.

“We worked tirelessly every day, from early morning to late in the evening, to get those conversations going and educate the workers,” says Lewek, who serves as a steward and on the Executive Board of his local. “Almost everyone knew about the union but didn’t know how it could help where they worked or were nervous to join because of misinformation and misunderstandings that have built up over time.”

By identifying the issues that mattered to the workers, having quality conversations and beginning the process of working together on shared issues, 71 workers signed up as new members.

“This is really just the start because we had so many more quality conversations,” Lewek says. “And we started the ball rolling in so many places that we are going to be seeing dividends from this for weeks to come. The blitz may be done but the real growth is really just beginning.”

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