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Season 4, Episode 122

Cann: “Successful organizing is more listening than talking”



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David Cann

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David Cann, Director of Organizing with the American Federation of Government Employees joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to talk about the organizing success in May. Cann discussed the organizing model used by the AFGE and why empowering locals and members is the key to successful organizing.

The AFGE had the largest month of growth in over 8 years in May. Despite losing nearly 3,500 members a month to retirement, the union has been able to employ a strategy to bring in more new members than it loses. Cann believes their success is directly related to having a mobilized membership — something the AFGE achieved by giving their members a voice in their workplace.

The new organizing model has been woven into the members daily activities and naturally extended to the new members. Organizing conversations should all look the same, despite every worker having a different answer for why they join a union, Cann said. By listening 80 percent of the time and talking only 20 percent of the time, organizers will find that workers will tell them why they want to join a union, and all the organizer has to do is point out that issue to the worker and add how unions allow them the opportunity to have a say in the issue. Cann has found that workers struggle to say no when being told and shown they will be given a voice in their workplace.

The AFGE has also empowered local unions and members to actively organize. They have found that this level of engagement shows potential new members the level of influence they can have in their workplace, leading to more successful organizing efforts. If organizers are able to give workers the voice they desire, unions will continue to grow, said Cann.

Listen to the entire episode to learn more.


America’s Work Force is the only daily labor podcast in the US and has been on the air since 1993, supplying listeners with useful, relevant input into their daily lives through fact-finding features, in-depth interviews, informative news segments and practical consumer reports. America’s Work Force is committed to providing an accessible venue in which America's workers and their families can hear discussion on important, relevant topics such as employment, healthcare, legislative action, labor-management relations, corporate practices, finances, local and national politics, consumer reports and labor issues.

America’s Work Force Union Podcast is brought to you in part by our sponsors: American Federation of Government Employees, American Federation of Musicians Local 4, Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, Communication Workers of America, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 6, The Labor Citizen newspaper, Laborers International Union of North America, North Coast Area Labor Federation, Survey and Ballot Systems, United Auto Workers, United Labor Agency, United Steelworkers.


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