5 Ways to Build an Email Activist List at Your Worksite

Categories: The Insider, Blog

Author: Chelsea Bland

Each year, the ways we communicate with one another expand and become more digital. As union activists and leaders, it is critical that we stay in touch with one another and keep pace with changing trends as we prepare for collective actions and share resources and information.

As union leaders in the government sector, we are all too familiar with how our access to our members and activists can be severely limited, or cut off all together. From government shutdowns to hostile management and an anti-union administration to even a global pandemic – we know how challenging it is to lose contact with our members because we solely rely on employer-based communication systems.

With our increased organizing efforts via our AFGE NOW program, it is the perfect time to refresh your communications outreach efforts and ensure you are building strong email lists at the local level. A critical piece of this effort is making sure you have the personal email addresses of your members. Going beyond using government-issued email addresses ensures that you can contact your members when employer-based channels are unavailable and helping keep our union’s activist strategies and communications away from agencies’ prying eyes.

Here are 5 tips for building a strong activist email list of non-government email addresses:

  1. For AFGE local officers, check the MyLocal database system to see if you can download the email addresses of members of your local who have already provided their personal email to AFGE.
  2. Let members know you want to send them informational surveys and need to use their personal email to keep your efforts away from the employer’s prying eyes.
  3. When holding lunch & learns, pass around a sign-in sheet and ask for members’ non-government email addresses. Remind attendees throughout the event to sign in and include their personal email address so you can contact them in the future with information on union events and initiatives.
  4. Create a digital form, like a Google Form, to collect non-government email addresses. You can then regularly share this link to ask for your members’ personal email addresses. For example, during virtual events put a Google Form link in the chat to collect personal email addresses. You can also send out a Google Form link through your existing communication channels asking for members to update their contact information, to include a personal email address.
  5. Place an email address collection sheet visibly in your union office and remind people to add their non-governmental email address to the sheet when they come in.

We hope this list sparks other ideas for building a strong email activist list at your worksite. Private communication, outside of the employer’s systems, is an important part of representing, organizing, and mobilizing our coworkers.

At times you may encounter colleagues who are hesitant to share their non-government email address.

Here are a few quick tips on being good stewards of your members’ contact information:

  • Be clear about how you will use their emails. Steer clear from using your email list for non-union related solicitations.
  • Avoid the dreaded ‘reply all’ by putting email addresses in the BCC field or by using an email management system like MailChimp or Constant Contact. Our Membership & Organization Department is also working with locals to get them set up on a digital management system called Broadstripes. To begin using Broadstripes, email [email protected].
  • Stay in regular communication with members by sharing union news and updates, workplace surveys, events, and member appreciation content. If you’re interested in starting a newsletter for your local, check out our latest template.
  • Make sure emails are coming from an officer of the local or using your local’s name.
  • Create a regular schedule of email communication so your members get used to hearing from you. We have this simple tool you can use to keep your digital communications planned and organized.

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