A New Year’s Resolution for NFFE Leaders: Ten Steps to Building a More Effective Local


There is no magic bullet for recruiting success. Every local is different. With that said, there are several things that all locals can and should be doing to increase visibility and build membership. Here are some of the most effective tricks you can use to make 2013 the best year your local has ever had.

1. Talk to at Least One Person Each Day about the Union

One of the best ways to get the word out about your local is to talk face-to-face with people in your bargaining unit who are not yet members. This may seem obvious, but people are more likely to join when they are approached by someone who is already a member and understands the benefits of being in the union. They are also more likely to join if they understand what the union is doing on their behalf.

2. Know the ABC’s of Your CBA

Though sometimes overlooked, one of the most valuable recruiting tools available to you is a copy of your Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Familiarizing yourself with your CBA will arm you with the necessary knowledge to become a more effective recruiter.

3. Reach Out to New Employees

While talking to a co-worker about the union is important any time, you are more likely to successfully recruit them if you do it sooner rather than later. Workers need to hear about NFFE, and all of the ways they benefit from union representation, as early and often as possible. We want an employee’s first impression of our organization to be a good one.

4. Visit the NFFE Website Early and Often

Anyone can visit the NFFE website and learn everything from who we are as a union, to what issues we are working on nationally, and who to contact for assistance. The website is a great place to direct prospective members to gain an overview of what NFFE is all about. There is a wealth of information available on the site, and sending bargaining unit members to check it out for themselves allows them to research the issues and topics that are most important to them. Check out NFFE’s award-winning website, www.nffe.org.

5. Know the Legislation that Affects You

Every day, legislation targeting federal pay, jobs, retirement, and healthcare are being discussed by politicians in Washington and over the media airwaves. What can you do to enter the conversation? Stay on top of the legislation by following the NFFE website and Facebook page – www.facebook.com/NFFEUnion – and share updates with your bargaining unit.

6. What is Your Bulletin Board Saying about Your Local?

Your members have a right to know everything that is going on. Bulletin boards can give them a quick snapshot of what the union is doing at the local and national level. The most crucial information that should always be on display is the location of the union office and officers’ contact information.

Be sure to update the information on your bulletin board regularly. If you do not update your display frequently, you may be giving a negative impression of the union to potential members. You always want to share information as it comes to you so that potential members know how valuable the union is to the workplace.

7. Use Sign-in Sheets in Your Union Office and at Union Events

One extremely valuable, but often overlooked, tool that every NFFE local can utilize is the sign-in sheet. Sign-in sheets should be kept near the entrance to your union office, and also be brought to every union-sponsored event. These sheets will provide you with an important record of the potential members that have shown an interest in your local.

8. Utilize New Member and Recruitment Kits

A number of resources, including both information and supplies, are available to NFFE locals to aid with recruiting efforts. Some great examples are NFFE’s recruitment and new member kits. These kits are provided free-of-charge to locals on request and are a great way to get prospective members thinking about the union, or to thank dues-paying members for their support. Order these kits and much more at www.nffe.org/materials.

9. Create a Committee and Draft Your Local Recruiting Strategic Plan

We all know that membership density brings clout within an agency and at the bargaining table, but for some locals, it’s difficult to know where to start. There are a number of steps and strategies that your local can utilize in order to increase your recruiting success. Creating a recruiting committee is a great foundation to start working on a strategic plan. A committee should be made up of people that are engaged in the local, but not necessarily officers. The best place to start is at your local’s monthly meeting. To create your plan, think about the tools and resources that your local already has to build membership and some obstacles that you still need to overcome. Don’t forget that the national office offers abundant resources and training in this area, so asking for help is a no-brainer.

10. Get to Know Your National Organizing Coordinator

NFFE has two full-time organizing coordinators who are ready and willing to support you in any capacity. These coordinators can help you put together trainings, obtain bargaining unit lists, assist during recruitment drives, send you supplies, work with your local to create a strategic plan, help you track your density and new members, and much, much more.

To receive even more tips and tricks, or to request recruiting items and assistance, please contact your National Organizing Coordinator. Cassie Bond covers locals west of the Mississippi River, and can be reached at cbond@nffe.org or (703) 303-2047. Brittany Cardinal covers locals to the east, plus Idaho, Texas, and Utah. She can be reached at bcardinal@nffe.org or (202) 216-4425.