Steward’s Corner: Union Newsletters: Two-Way or No Way

Source: Ellen David Friedman, Labor Notes, February 2, 2018

For union members trying to breathe a little life into their local, a newsletter is often the “go-to” solution. But what should go in it?

Say you and a group of buddies at work want to push your union in the right direction, toward greater member involvement. It’s not that things with the union are all terrible; in fact you’ve got a decent contract and stewards do a reasonable job handling grievances. But day to day a lot of problems come up that the union doesn’t seem to touch. Morale is low. There aren’t many union meetings, and attendance is often poor. You’ve got a sense that things could be different.

Perhaps there already is a newsletter—either print or electronic—but no one pays much attention to it. You may be thinking that a new and improved newsletter would be an easy way to stimulate interest in the union, educate co-workers, increase transparency, and motivate engagement. And you’d be right… but only if you keep certain basic organizing principles in mind.

Consider these scenarios, and ask yourself how best to report on them in a newsletter in a way that helps encourage more members to get involved in the union:….


Newsletter Distribution: Worst to Best
• Posted on the union website
• Left on a table in the mail room or break room
• Put in mailboxes or cubbies
• Sent via postal mail
• Email blast
• Hand distributed by stewards/reps
• Individually distributed with conversations
• All of the above
• All of the above, plus the newsletter includes “discussion topics” for members
• All of the above, plus discussions are organized around members’ responses….