UCW Members Beef Up Their Organizing Skills at Training in Mississippi

UCWs members took part in a unique, concentrated organizing training held in Jackson, MS in mid-October. Joining together with dozens of public workers from other CWA locals from Mississippi, Florida, New Jersey, New York, and California, the participants learned about and then practiced principles of union organizing, including how to talk to coworkers and move them to action.

"The OI was a great opportunity to learn new organizing skills and to get to know other union member activists from across the country," said Melanie Barron, a Graduate Teaching Assistant in Geography at UT Knoxville. "I have a better understanding of the importance of building genuine, solid relationships with my coworkers as I’m organizing on the job, and I feel emboldened and ready to make our union stronger—one member at a time."

Liz Roberson, assistant to the vice president for public, health care and education workers, Lisa Kermish, vice president of University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE-CWA Local 9119), and Brenda Scott, president of Mississippi Alliance of State Employees (MASE-CWA), led workshops, and UCW lead organizer Tom Smith and organizer Cassie Watters presented sections as well.

"I came away from the organizing institute feeling equipped and able to spread our union's message, and to confidently and knowledgeably build our union. The institute's trainers and staff, whose enduring patience and hard work focused simply on seeing each of us succeed, were responsible for giving me the needed tools. I whole-heartedly want to thank each and every one of them," said Michael Kuley, Research Assistant II in the Water Center at Tennessee Technological University.

After the training they visited City of Jackson Public Works workers and talked to them about the importance of building their voice, and listened to their stories and concerns. "The organizing training was really exciting for me," said Sheryl Allen, UCW organizer. "The best part was when we went to the job and all of us were working together to talk to city workers. We need lots more of that!"