Major Change Coming as NFFE Shifts to New Model of Unionism with 2012 Organizing and Recruiting Strategic Plan


This fall, NFFE leadership from throughout the country gathered at the IAM’s William W. Winpisinger Center to develop a new plan for the future of our union’s organizing and recruitment efforts. By week’s end however, NFFE left the Center with a commitment to fundamentally transform the way our union does business: the 2012 NFFE Organizing and Recruiting Strategic Plan.

The change we are pursuing is to transform our thinking from a servicing model to a more effective organizing model. The difference between the two models is stark. Under the servicing model, the union functions almost like an insurance company where small groups of people sign up in case they ever run into trouble. The emphasis is on “what can the union do for me today?” These types of locals rarely last long because the structure is inherently unsustainable, with scant involvement and resources dragging the union down over time. The few can only carry the weight of the many for so long before a new way of doing things must be explored.

On the other hand, the organizing model, which serves as the foundation of our new Organizing and Recruiting Strategic Plan, does things very differently. In the organizing model everyone in NFFE – members, staff, local, and national officers – is seen as an agent for membership growth. Instead of a fee for service program for the few, the union serves as an advocate for the many. The emphasis is on “what can we do for each other?” rather than “what’s in it for me?” This model is by its very nature self-sustaining because it promotes involvement on all levels from all members. This model is by its very nature self-sustaining because perpetual recruitment begets perpetual strength, resources, and influence in the workplace.

With forty percent of the federal workforce retiring over the next decade, the need for a new way forward could not be more apparent. To make matters worse, anti-government members of Congress are growing bolder in their attempts to dismantle the federal workforce. Media outlets and conservative think tanks have also peddled misleading stories diminishing the service of our nation’s dedicated federal employees. The time to get organized and get active is now.

It is important to note that this our new model does not mean that we will cease servicing locals. On the contrary, the greater the membership density we have, the more resources and clout we will have to provide even better representation than we offer today. The important thing to remember is that we must embrace this change before it is too late. We know change will not happen overnight, but NFFE has accomplished great things in the past, and this bold step forward is just the latest in the march of our great union’s long history.

To guide this cultural shift in NFFE, the Organizing and Recruiting Strategic Plan has four key programs that will serve as important tools for shifting toward this lasting model of unionism: 1) Incentivizing recruitment 2) Measuring progress; 3) Recognizing achievement; and 4) Engaging young workers (see one-page summary of the plan here). Together these four programs will provide locals with the resources, recognition, accountability, and engagement we will need to flourish under this new model.

Your local was mailed several hard copies of the plan to accompany this digital release. To learn more about what your local can do to implement the plan, contact your national organizing coordinator using the contact information below.

Western Region (Purple) Eastern Region (Blue)

Cassie Kerner
(703) 303-2047

Brittany Paull
(202) 216-4425