North Dakota Union Members Present on Organizing

On Friday, September 22nd, North Dakota Union members Travis Swanson, United Steelworkers Local 560 President and Dan Jackson, USW Local 560 member and Vice President of the Northern Plains United Labor Council, attended a training as guests of the St. Paul and Minneapolis Labor Federations at the St. Paul Labor Federation Hall.

Brothers Swanson and Jackson work at the Bobcat plant in Gwinner, ND and presented on union organizing in a Right-to-Work legal environment for about a half an hour.

“We typically float around a little over 90% union membership in our local at Bobcat,” Swanson Said.

“We gave a brief history on local. Talked about how we organize in a Right to Work state. We went over some of the contract language that we have negotiated that helps us organize more effectively,” Jackson said.

“We also talked a bit about our worksite communication program where we work to map all the areas of our worksite to ensure we can get a message out to our membership as fast as possible, while having solid conversations about things that matter to our members,” Jackson said.

They admit it’s not easy, and basically just takes hard work.

“It is difficult to do and difficult to master, with new hires, bidding, bumping, shifts changing. The program we run has been a process that requires you to continually rework the program and practice to continually to stay strong,” Jackson said.

An example of a successful worksite action was informing their membership of their Weingarten rights – the rights that guarantee employees the right to union representative at an investigatory interview.

“We handed out a card printed with their Weingarten rights and than explained what it meant in person. One person talking to 6-7 other people in their section.” Jackson said.

“Frequent Interaction with your membership is key. At work, outside of work. Maintain those friendships and relationships,” Swanson said.

“We were just really happy to be invited to share our experience down in South East North Dakota in a Right to Work state. It’s always great to get to learn from each other in the true meaning of solidarity.” USW 560 member and Northern Plains United Labor Council Vice President Dan Jackson said.