Charting the Membership
Charting is a necessary ingredient in any plan to build up our Divisions. We use charts to know, at a glance, where our union is weak and where it is strong. Charts basically provide us with a picture of the worksite. We chart so that we know where our members are, to whom they relate, and who their leaders are. We use charts to identify areas within our facilities where we need to recruit and train leaders.
There are many different models of charts. They can and probably will vary from Division to Division. Charts can include the following information:
- Every member: their name, location, shift, job classification
- Membership or fee payer status
- New members and/or new employees
- Where Stewards are, where they aren’t
- Level of activity (of worksite leaders and members)
- Phone tree information
- Training status (Stewards, Member Mobilizers, Executive Board Representatives)
- Where members are active; where they aren’t
This information can give us a picture of the strengths and weaknesses of the Division and the Union as a whole. It can tell us how members feel about the union, how communication systems are working, what’s important to our members, etc.
How to chart
Break down your facility by work area: What is a work area? It is that natural and small unit of elbow-to-elbow contact within work places. The kitchen is not a work area. Salad makers are a work area. Nurses aides is not a work area. Nurses aides on 3 West is a work area (unless 3 West is divided between front and back…you get the picture).
Divide the workers by work area: Write them down on a large chart for display or a small, hand-held 8 _ x 11 size paper for carrying around with you…or both!
Within each area identify leaders: That doesn’t mean, necessarily, the person who is most pro-union. It means the person who leads their fellow workers, good or bad.
Color-code the chart: What you color code depends on your goals for using the chart. Depending on the campaign (is it a contract campaign, a new member outreach program, a COPE signup drive?), you may want to highlight in yellow all people who have committed to a rally or have signed a petition or worn a button. Color-coding makes it easy to look at the chart and see where – location-wise and shift-wise – the union is strong, and where leadership is needed. Some Divisions may want to put phone numbers and addresses right on the chart to keep all of their information in one area.
Charts are fluid: They are only as useful if they are accurate. The process of filling them out often involves tracking down many people we didn’t know were members and taking off of our lists those people who have left, gone on leave, or changed work assignments. Leaders should be taught to chart, and to enlist other activists to help. The process of charting and keeping charts updated also force worksite leaders to be in touch with members (and non-members) in their area.
|Member?||Petition?||4/13 Rally||March on Boss|
St Haven, MA
|Yes||3/2 Yes||Will bring 5 co-workers||Will Come|
|Agency||3/13 Yes||Maybe||Who Knows|