Portand (OR) Federation of School Professionals
You might be amazed at how easy it is to bring new members into the union fold. Consider Tim Taylor, treasurer of the Portland Federation of School Professionals in Oregon, who got nine co-workers to sign up simply by stuffing fliers into their mailboxes at school.
He’s quick to point out that he didn’t even design the fliers, which list 47 benefits of membership across the top and provide a membership application form across the bottom. In the upper right corner, Taylor photocopied a note with his name on it. “I just added a little something,” he says.
The building representative is part of AFT-Oregon’s push to sign up “fair share” payers in the PSRP affiliate, Local 111, which covers 95 work sites with members in about 60 job classifications, ranging from library and campus security workers to secretaries and clerks, sign language interpreters, career center coordinators, occupational and physical therapists, and ESL and special education assistants.
In Oregon, all public employees pay their fair share of the union’s cost of negotiating and administering contracts. That’s why they’re called fair share payers. This system could change, though, if Oregon voters decide to become a so-called right-to-work state, where employees no longer would pay their fair share.
That’s why people like Tim Taylor and Belinda Reagan, the local president, decided to go full bore in signing up members. For between $4 and $10 per paycheck, fee payers can step up to membership. With that comes a voice in the workplace, union voting rights, financial counseling and a slew of discounts.
“Fair share is just a few dollars less than our dues, so we decided this was a perfect opportunity,” Reagan says. “Four dollars and change. That’s a cup of coffee.”
And did they ever seize that opportunity.
Local 111 started its membership drive last February by sending a letter to every fee payer, an effort that brought in 60 to 70 new members. Next, it decided to shoot for 111 new members (Get it? Local 111) and sent out a batch of emails. Members even did some phone banking. By July 1, the federation hit 153 new members, blasting past its goal. The local now has about 700 members.
“That’s mammoth for us,” Reagan says.
For his part, Taylor enjoys talking with recruits who bring him their applications, which he scans and emails to the union office. He likes keeping up with what’s going on and answering questions, adding: “I feel I still have a lot to learn.”