‘Working America is one of the brightest new developments for a beleaguered labour movement’, writes David Moberg in an interesting article in the Nation. The organisation, created by labour federation AFL-CIO, has 2.5 million members, many from groups that are not traditionally likely to join a union.
The organisation may have an impact on the upcoming presidential elections. Volunteers are going to try to visit every member, asking them to vote for Barack Obama. In the past, a large majority of Working America members have voted for Democratic candidates. This is remarkable given their background: one in three are born-again Christians and as many are members of the National Rifle Association.
Working America signs up members through the Internet, telephone and direct mail, but mainly through door-to-door canvassing in targeted suburbs and inner cities. Membership is free, but members are asked to take action - for example, sign a petition, contact a politician or tell their story at a meeting. Of those who are contacted, two-thirds join and one in five pledge to take action.
Canvassers are trained both about political issues and about canvassing techniques ‘such as maintaining eye contact; keeping it short and simple; and using emotionally strong but friendly and optimistic language’.
Members are contacted to ask what their priorities are, they can participate in the ‘worst boss’ contest and they are offered legal and other services. Working America has a 32 million dollar budget per two years.
David Moberg article