The AFSCME 43rd International Convention graduated the first class of the Rise Up Institute, a more than 5,000-member army of activists, organizers, and communicators who returned home armed to fight for their union and secure a seat at the table.
Members participated in four tracks: Organizing, Political and Legislative, Communications and Representation, learning new tools and strategies to build power.
Jessica Langhurst, of Local 1092, Council 5 (Minnesota) spoke of what she took away from the Representation track: “We need to connect with future members early. We need to really hear their stories and tell our story, too. When I go back home, I’m going to talk to as many people as I can about making this a priority in our next negotiating session.”
New Jersey’s Kim Allen, a member of Local 3386, AFSCME New Jersey, felt invigorated after taking the Political track.
“I learned that politics isn’t something that happens on T.V. or in the papers. It starts with us – in our towns, in our homes. If we don’t like the world we’re living in, if we don’t like how working families are being treated, we have the power to change that,” Allen said.
Bill Slocum, of Local 1635, Council 66 (New York), has new tools to communicate thanks to the Communications track.
“I couldn’t believe all the user-friendly tools we learned about in the communications track. This week, I learned what we want to say, and how we want to say it. And I learned you don’t have to be a tech nerd to use sophisticated technology to spread our message to every last corner of this country. If I can learn it, anyone can,” he said.
Samuel Bangura, of Local 3114, Texas Organizing Council, learned “how to solve problems on the ground and at the worksite,” in the Organizing track. “That’s why building Member Action Teams is so important,” and why he pledged to build a MAT when he gets home.
Facing a wave of unprecedented attacks, the 43rd International Convention provided unprecedented innovations and strategies to meet those attacks head on.