AFGE Local 1793 in Philadelphia is a high-performing local in many ways. The local, which represents employees at the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center and several out-patient clinics, has a high percentage of members – out of the 1,600 employees in the bargaining unit, 1,300 are AFGE members.
Now that the local has shifted its focus to switching members from government-controlled payroll dues deduction to the AFGE-operated dues collection system, known as AFGE E-Dues, Local 1793 has proven once again that it’s a dynamite local. Since the last holiday season in December, the local has successfully switched 1 in 3 of its members to AFGE E-Dues. Its 450 members now have the power to control their own paychecks without having to worry if the administration is going to cut off their union dues and prevent them from coming together with their coworkers to have a real voice at work. These members are sending a message to the Trump administration that they won’t let the administration water down their constitutional right to associate and join a union.
Local 1793 President Karen Ford-Styer said her local made E-Dues a priority understanding that her local, and the entire federation, must act quickly. The Trump administration could cut off payroll dues deduction any day.
“We realized early in the game that the people who were in control of our finances, we were leaving our dues in their hands. They were in control of us, and they don’t want us to have any rights,” said Ford-Styer.
The local now signs up new members through E-Dues and is pushing to switch all current members to E-Dues as soon as possible. They worked with National Organizer Claude Rucker to create a plan to help sign up members for E-Dues faster. As part of that plan, they would reach out to members personally, set up a table at the hospital and clinics several times a week, and inform members via email where they can go to sign up.
“I think the personal effect has a lot to do with it, communicating with them personally. One day at one point we got 200 people to switch over,” said Ford-Styer.
What she also found, however, is the fact that even though members are aware of the executive orders, many people are still not aware of the dues cut off threat. So the number one question the local receives from members is why they are switching to E-Dues. Once they understand the reason, they agree to sign up.
Ford-Styer said if people are hesitant due to security concerns, the local has been able to answer questions and ease their concerns quickly, thanks to training provided by AFGE. When members want to sign up but don’t know what their banks’ routing numbers are, the local has been able to help members look up the numbers on the bank’s website immediately.