Unifor’s Organizing Department continues to break new ground and adapt to the new realities of the COVID-19 pandemic – using tools such as Zoom meetings, distancing rallies and bigger fonts on flyers.
“Every day we learn more about organizing workers during a pandemic, and we are continually adapting what we do to reach workers whatever way works best for them in their workplace,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.
Take, for instance, flyers. Organizing has moved increasingly online as social distancing has made face-to-face contact more difficult, and even dangerous. At one long term care home, however, workers told organizers that while they appreciate the effort, they still prefer printed physical flyers.
“So that’s what we did – but we bumped up the size of the text so it was easier to read over a facemask or through a visor,” said Unifor Organizing Director Kellie Scanlan.
Online activities remain the greatest innovation, however. Organizers are hard at work with the Communications department developing several new websites to host organizing drives and engage with workers.
New online membership cards, set up in consultation with labour boards across the country have begun to roll out and have led to an increase in cards being signed. Already, Unifor has filed three union certification applications using online cards.
Organizers have also begun to use Zoom to meet online with workers interested in joining the union. This was begun as a response to the pandemic, since we can no longer hold big meetings in union halls or other venues, but is proving to be a model that can continue to be used even after this crisis, when larger meetings are allowed again.
The increased online presence has led to a higher level of social media engagement as a way for workers to explore their right to join a union.
“Many workers really like these online options, which is great. There will always be a place for face-to-face meetings and all the other traditional organizing tools, but these new online tools aren’t going anywhere,” Scanlan said.
“The more ways that we can find to engage workers, the more we can help them join Unifor – and that’s good news for everyone.”