Congressional Meeting Toolkit
Setting up a Meeting with a Lawmaker
The first step is to contact the office of your Representative. When you request a meeting with a lawmaker be prepared to state:
- To find the phone number for your Representative click here.
- To find the phone number for your Senators click here.
- Who you are (e.g. President of Local 2001);
- Who you represent (e.g. 1200 workers at the Defense Logistics Agency);
- What you’d like to discuss with the lawmaker (e.g. Lift the Cap on DoD’s Civilian Workforce; Limit Civilian-to-Military Job Conversion; Stop Arbitrary Cuts to the Civilian Workforce; Save the A-10 Warthog; Don’t Break Up DFAS; Save the Commissaries; Keep the Ban on Privatizing DoD Jobs);
- How many people you are bringing (e.g., 5 union officers); and, dates you are available.
You may be asked to submit the request in writing. If so, you can adapt the Sample Letter below.
It may not be possible to meet personally with your lawmaker. If they are not available, you will want to meet with their staff. Staff advise lawmakers on what legislation they should support or oppose. Staff can and are very influential. They are key to accomplishing our legislative agenda.
Congressional Visit Planning Checklist
Making an Appointment
- Call Congressional office; find out name of scheduler; request meeting
- Write short letter to request and/or confirm meeting
- Arrange place for pre meeting
- Inform members of lobbying team of date, time and place of pre meeting and meeting.
- Check with team members to see if anyone should be added to the team because of knowledge of an issue or persons, connections to the Member of Congress (Remember: the ideal size of the group is 5 to 9 people)
- Arrange for a camera to be brought to meeting for pictures
- Pre meeting is held an hour to an hour and one half before the visit at a site close to the Congressional office. If this is your first meeting, you may want your pre-meeting to be a day or two before to allow more time for your team’s discussions.
- The team meets to plan, strategize and script the meeting
- Review the goal and topic of the meeting
- Establish the order of introductions and go through what team members will say; their presentation should be personalized
- Using the 2014 Issue Papers, script what points team members will make on the issue to be discussed.
- Explain leader's major tactics:
- Directs discussion; does not do most of talking
- Ends meeting before Member of Congress does
If possible, the picture needs to be taken at end of meeting
Sample Letter Requesting a Meeting
Name of Scheduler
Scheduler, Representative ___________
Local Representative Office Street Address
City, State, Zipcode
On behalf of the _____ employees represented by Local X, of the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, I would like to schedule a meeting with Representative (or Senator) _______. Our members work at the ___________ (fill in your agency and location). As taxpayers, workers and constituents of Representative (or Senator) _____ we would like to meet to discuss the need to avoid a political shutdown of the government and the need to stop Sequestration.
Given the urgency of the situation, we would appreciate the opportunity to meet with Representative (or Senator) _______, as soon as possible. I can be reached at (XXX) XXX-XXXX to arrange the time.
President, Local # AFGE
(NOTE: The letter should be sent on your Local’s letterhead)
The Congressional Visit
Before the Meeting
- Be early (10 15 minutes is good) and expect the Member of Congress to be running late
- Leader should inquire how much time the team will have with Member of Congress; it may be much less than you originally scheduled (Knowing this will allow you to end the meeting on time)
During the Meeting
- Meeting begins with personal introductions: name and place of employment; years of service; place or residence and connection to the Member of Congress (if any) or a little about your family
- Leader introduces the issue on topic to be discussed; each team member should contribute to the discussion
- Solicit the views and position of the Member of Congress on the issue; ask for a commitment for or against the issue (or to co-sponsor AFGE supported legislation)
- Keep the tone of the meeting professional; keep your cool, even if the Member of Congress does not agree with our position
- Leader concludes the meeting, thanks the Member of Congress for their time and requests a photo
- Get the name of the staffer who handles defense issues in order to establish ongoing contact
After the Meeting
Happens after visit (in hallway or outside building).
Leader reminds the team to:
- Make thank you call
- Write thank you note with request of support for our issue
- Please let AFGE know how your meeting went by completing this survey