MAPE-tober off to a good start across the state
MAPE-tober, the biggest organizing effort ever coordinated by MAPE’s Organizing Council, is off to a good start across the state. The effort is also being supported by the Political Council and Negotiations Committee.
During MAPE-tober, members are reinforcing engagement through strengthening membership, supporting Contract Action Teams (CATs) and talking to voters about candidates who support MAPE priorities.
“I know we have a good local so I didn’t think people in 601 would be too antagonistic. I didn’t really feel too intimidated about it, which says a lot because I’m really an introvert,” said Local 601 Vice President Lisa Slaikeu about her local’s work on MAPE-tober. Slaikeu is a disability specialist with Disability Determination Services in the Department of Employment and Economic Development.
Slaikeu said she and her colleagues reached out to members and non-members alike. She added they’d found out about some flu shot clinics and “used this as another avenue to reach out to people, as well as invite them to a Local 601 event at an apple orchard in Stillwater.”
As of last week, 65 members union-wide have completed numerous MAPE-tober shifts: 1,000 doors had been knocked, 310 conversations had taken place and MAPE has 75 new members and 42 new CAT leaders. According to MAPE-tober organizers, this week’s numbers are looking even better.
About one dozen Local 601 members have participated in the MAPE-tober effort with many of them receiving lost time funds from Local 601’s budget. So far, they’ve knocked on more than 200 doors and spoken with 80 people.
Slaikeu said she was able to recruit a new member from someone who had been a casual colleague, “I told her that someone probably talked with her about MAPE when she came on board but it was probably a busy time and asked her if she’d like to join. We were able to sit on her porch and catch up because we hadn’t seen each other for a couple of years.”
Region 15 Negotiations Committee Representative Val Dorff was recently in her large district in the northwestern part of the state. Dorff said her MAPE-tober goals were increasing member engagement and building her contract action team. As part of the negotiations team, she knows that strong membership numbers mean strength at the bargaining table in 2023.
“We need folks to be engaged and get involved. Without member engagement, the State can throw terrible numbers at us and we’re just a bunch of angry people in a room. This isn’t like a shopping list where members say, ‘We want this and this and this, now you guys go get it.’ Without members backing us, we will be in a really difficult spot,” Dorff said.
Dorff, who had never door knocked before, participated in MAPE-tober and said she was initially “terrified” about approaching people but knew “how important it is to connect with people – find out if they have issues and have them know that we’re here to help and willing to knock on their door.”
The first nine people weren’t home but the tenth one was. “She was way out in the country. The sign said, ‘German Shepherd on site.’ I wasn’t sure where to park so I slowly got out of the car, looked around and made my way to the door,” Dorff said.
The woman came outside and as they talked about her job, Dorff asked if there was a reason she wasn’t a union member. “The woman told me she didn’t think all jobs needed to be unionized. I told her about some of my job experiences and how MAPE helped improve my situation,” Dorff said.
Dorff said they talked more about the woman’s job and found they shared some mutual interests. “We wound up having a really good meeting and I felt like I made a connection that wasn’t there before. The union was humanized to a certain extent. Maybe she’ll feel a little bit more comfortable about who the union is – and about the members who make up the union. Maybe if she needs something in the future she’ll reach out. It went much better than I expected. It was empowering to take on something that was scary initially,” Dorff added.