AEA, CAMP Members Construct Grid to Organize, Communicate with their Transportation Coworkers



With the (now-decided) Janus U.S. Supreme Court case looming, Local 21 set an ambitious goal of having a personal conversation with each of our 11,000 Members to communicate the value of unions and Local 21 Membership.  That meant some Member Leaders would need to step up and have those talks.  AEA and CAMP Members in San Jose’s Department of Transportation met the challenge.

The group has combined their own skills with what they’ve learned from Local 21 trainings and mapped out their department.  They understood that Local 21 Staff can’t cover that much terrain and that colleague-to-colleague conversations are much more effective and meaningful.

After recruiting several other worksite leaders, they established a chain of communication for all 120 Local 21-represented transportation employees for when there are workplace issues or Local 21 membership meetings.

We asked a few of the Leaders about their success organizing coworkers and advice they have for other Local 21 chapters:

Peter Bennett, Transportation Specialist, CAMP Member

Katherine Estrada, Senior Analyst, CAMP Member

Florin Lapustea, Associate Engineer, AEA Member

David Nerhood, Senior Analyst, CAMP Member


Q:  Why is it important to have Member-to-Member contact?

A:  Florin Lapustea:  Members need to understand that our friendships and professional relationships are the key element that give us empowerment over our employer. When times get tough, our employer will not protect us.

Katherine Estrada:  Each of us has a bank of trust with different balances for everyone we come across in our lives. Those with whom we share life circumstances, friendship, work goals, etc... have higher account balances. These higher account balances add value to the message and increase the probability that it is received/trusted. Further, we know that a lot of intended sentiment is lost in the impersonal medium of email communications.

Peter Bennett:  It puts a face that someone knows to a set of issues and concepts that most people only encounter in theoretical fashion or through the news. There is plenty of spin about unions, both in a positive and negative light. When a colleague notices that you, a regular person with similar interests and goals, gets involved, it humanizes the idea, and makes the tent bigger and more welcoming.


Q:  Why is it important for you to be involved in your Union?

A:  Peter:  My world view about working together and coordinating to improve society aligns with the idea of having a union. In our particular workplace, there are a lot of benefits to be thankful for, and decent structures to protect workers. But, I've seen firsthand both how those can be eroded, and what states are like where it never existed. I'm involved to keep the numbers high, so we keep our power and continue to progress as a group.

David Nerhood:  So that I am better informed about the union and our objectives.


Q: What advice would you give other Local 21 Members to help them strengthen their chapters?

A:  Peter:  Try out a few meetings, and then see if another person you know would like to go. It will break the ice to walk to the meeting and back while discussing why you appreciate the union, and what you want out of it.

Florin:  Maintain friendships and talk about experiences learned from the private sector. 

David:  Participate and communicate. 

Katherine:  Have a beer together!

Cheers to our Member Leaders across Local 21 who work hard for their coworkers, families and communities!