AFGE’s network of Department of Defense locals and councils, DEFCON, has set a goal to recruit 5,000 new members by the end of the calendar year. The strategy it’s using to achieve this goal provides lessons for all AFGE locals and councils as they embark on their own organizing initiatives.
Step 1: Map it out
Even though the recruitment goal is new, DEFCON began working to achieve it more than three years ago. That’s when leaders launched an ambitious project to map all the AFGE locals representing DoD employees.
Through this mapping project, DEFCON has collected invaluable information on the size and composition of DoD locals – understanding who is and isn’t part of the bargaining unit, reconciling membership rosters, and identifying current and potential members by job classifications.
“We have to parcel this out at the most basic level,” DEFCON Chair Felicia Sharp said. “It’s one thing to talk about having a lunch and learn, but when you’re talking about mapping, you have to build a plan with that foundation.”
Step 2: Plan it out
Armed with the mapping information, DEFCON is now moving to the next stage – setting a specific recruitment goal and planning out the steps to get there.
To ensure DEFCON achieves the organizing goal, Sharp is borrowing lessons from a leadership coaching class she teaches during her off-hours – specifically, using an action plan to break down each step into manageable pieces.
The action plan subdivides the 5,000 goal by quarters, months, and individual locals. AFGE’s Membership and Organizing Department has identified locals that have budgeted for organizing activities and are therefore in a better position to hit the ground running.
“I think we’re at a good place as an organization,” Supervisory National Organizer Tracie St. John said. “We’re not sitting and waiting for locals to reach out to us. We know the locals where we can go in right now.”
Step 3: Make it happen
As part of the action plan, DEFCON is working with locals to set achievable milestones with weekly steps – or “homework assignments,” as Sharp refers to it – to keep them on track throughout the process.
“It’s really teaching them in the long run how to do this,” Sharp said.
DEFCON has purchased individual Zoom accounts for each component to use to schedule meetings with their locals to introduce them to the organizing plan, help locals work through any mapping issues, help them set achievable goals, and discuss methods for organizing in a post-pandemic environment.
“I’m very confident we’ll get to the 5,000 goal,” she said.
Bonus Step: Stay connected
DoD locals can email [email protected] with any questions or to request log-in details for the biweekly DEFCON Steering Group meeting.
In addition, all current AFGE members are invited to join DEFCON’s private Facebook page.