Thank you Local 34 for giving us the opportunity to attend the 2018 Labor Notes Conference in Chicago from April 6-8. Labor Notes can mean many things. It is a magazine, book publisher, conference, and network of union members, leaders and activists. They say they have been the voice of activists putting the movement back into the labor movement.
We had a packed agenda from Friday PM to Sunday PM. Between the 11 of us that went, 9 of us were attending for the FIRST time. Many of us are newer Stewards and on the Member Action Team. There were almost 3000 attendees at this conference. It was great to connect with union members from all over the world! I enjoyed getting to know the other Local 34 attendees better.
We were able to learn new things at the multiple workshops and speakers. To name a few of the workshops: Dealing with Difficult Supervisors, Using FMLA, Black Worker’s Rights, Creative Organizing and Strategic Mischief, The Crisis in Puerto Rico, Going on the Offense to Defend Immigrant Members (DACA), History of Labor, Audio Editing for Beginners, Supercharge your Grievance, Assertive Grievance Handling, Using Social Media In Your Campaigns, Organizing Never Stops, Secrets Of A Successful Organizer and more.
We could fill the newsletter summarizing all that we learned. Here are some quotes from a few of us:
I really appreciated all unions standing together with teachers and how on fire everyone was to push back on employers to fight for what was right. –Sametta Hill
Seeing workers from different industries share tactics they’ve used that have worked and the overall vibe of camaraderie and unity is something I won’t soon forget. This is a conference we should definitely continue to give our members the opportunity to attend. -Shanaya Dungey
We can be doing more. We can do more to organize ourselves. We can increase our community partnerships. Our union consists of a wide variety of people who have families, friends and neighbors. It is likely that issues that our workers are facing will impact their lives beyond the workplace. We need to find a way to build partnerships. This can include making sure people have the resources to get to meetings. Do workers need a ride? Is the language that we are using inclusive to all? Our we supporting events and causes that are important to the communities that we live in? Let’s make sure that our union is as inclusive as possible. –Bobbie Miller Thomas
As frustrating as the crowded or overflowing workshops were on some occasions, it was also very powerful and a good sign of the momentum being built worldwide. –Dave Paurus
I left feeling Empowered and encouraged to continue to educate my fellow co-workers and Union on what should be the platform for us as Laborers. –Iyana Galloway
I had thought it might be boring or tedious, but I was wrong! I had such a blast in each one of the workshops I attended! The energy and commitment of all the people at the conference was astounding! It really fired me up for the Union even more than I already was! -Amorette Robeck
With all the attacks on our union, including the nearing Janus decision from the Supreme Court. We need to build alliances with the laborers we met from all over the world at Labor Notes, but more importantly, we need to build alliances with each and every member of Local 34. We cannot let our differences and this election erode the strength we truly have. I love my brothers and sisters of Local 34. –Lindsay Schwab
In Solidarity, Amorette Robeck, Iyana Galloway, Yunuen Avila, Shanaya Dungey, Bobbie Miller Thomas, Dave Paurus, Jim Edin, Lindsay Schwab, Tamika Hannah and Deb Konechne