Cover the walls!
Yesterday the union held a lunch to celebrate the new contract. The two union reps there had an interesting story.
Months ago, when it became clear how bad the management's initial offer was, the union circulated a petition for employees to sign declaring that they supported its efforts to get something better. Copies of the petition were sent to every work unit with instructions to fax it back to the union.
Yesterday, our union reps told us that within twenty-four hours of sending out the petition, they received two thousand signatures (more than half the members). In the big conference room where negotiations were to be held, they taped up the returned petitions with signatures on the walls. The petitions completely covered the walls. It was a graphic reminder to the management negotiators that the union had the employees behind it.
Considering the state of the economy back then, the deal we ended up getting wasn't bad.
As health-care-reform negotiations drag on, with the insurance companies spending money all-out to buy any legislator who might be swayed to stymie real change, we aren't able to cover the walls of the Senate and House with petitions. But Congress has fax machines too, and they get mail. All that dirty money is of no use to legislators except to help them win our votes next election. If we make it clear we won't re-elect them unless they do the right thing, money won't help them. Speaking out makes a difference -- if enough people do it.