This new column will feature thoughts and opinions from your Executive Board.
During the week of July 11, I was given the opportunity by our local to attend a full-week seminar at Cornell University’s School of Industrial Labor Relations as part of the Union Leadership Institute’s certificate program. It was a tremendous opportunity to sit with other labor leaders and discuss the state and future of the labor movement. It was both revealing and disturbing.
Because of the insight afforded me by working with other labor leaders and their specific problems, I was able to take a hard look at who we are as a union, how we fit in the larger labor movement, and the direction we need to be taking in regard to strategic planning.
Among the key issues discussed were the need for organizing new members to increase union density in the industry, and the desperate need for diversity to increase member involvement to show that we are an all inclusive union rather than an exclusive club. Our greatest resource as a union is the membership. To increase our membership is to increase that vital resource enabling us to effect the change that is needed in order to survive.
Sitting and working with the various labor leaders I realized that, although we share similar problems and obstacles, as a trade union we are unique. In addition to the commitment of advancing industry standards and organizing new members, we also concern ourselves with the larger societal issues that face our members and our art. We have inherited the charge of preserving the standard and quality of live performance and promoting the essential role of music in education. In order to achieve these goals, it is my view that as a union we have to continue the effort of becoming more involved in the various communities in which we live and work.
We, as members, sometimes feel set apart from the very organization that unites us. It has become extremely clear to me that as an elected rank-and-file member of your Executive Board it is my responsibility to create opportunities that foster the growth of union ownership to all of our members. To do this, we have to take hold of our organization and reach out to engage the entire membership. The education of our society about who we are, what we do, and why we do it has to be done by each and every one of us if we are to advance our cause.
Tino Gagliardi is an 802 member and an elected member of the union’s Executive Board.