Bargaining for the common good is a tested mechanism for workers with collective bargaining rights to include the interests of their broader community in direct bargaining demands. Through our collective power, we can start to win improvements in our working conditions for ourselves and for our students.
We have an unprecedented opportunity to unite with our UW classified staff who are also SEIU 925 union members, and include some priorities and substantive issues for faculty in bargaining the next SEIU 925 contract with the university.
SEIU 925 is part of the Bargaining for the Common Good Network, which is made up of unions, community groups, racial justice organizations and student organizations that work together as equal partners to win bigger and broader demands at the bargaining table and in the streets. In these campaigns, labor and community groups work with a broad group of stakeholders acting in their own interest to demand that corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share so that our communities have what they need to prosper. Unions that have the right to bargain use contract fights as an opportunity to organize with community partners around a set of demands that benefit not just the bargaining unit, but also the wider community as a whole. These are campaigns for investing in our communities, not just settling a union contract.
1) Expand the scope of bargaining beyond wages and benefits. Identify issues that resonate with members, partners and allies and that impact our communities. Put forth demands that address structural issues, not just symptoms of the problem.
2) Go on offense in your campaign by identifying, exposing and challenging the real villains, the financial and corporate actors who profit from and increasingly drive policies and actions.
3) Engage community allies as partners in issue development and the bargaining campaign. Bring in community partners on the ground floor and ask them what they need out of the bargaining campaign.
4) Center racial justice in your demands. Campaign demands should address the role that employers play in creating and exacerbating structural racism in our communities.
5) Strengthen internal organizing, membership and member engagement. These campaigns must deeply engage the memberships of both unions and community organizations, and there must be opportunities for deep relationship-building and joint-visioning between the members of the different organizations.
6) Leverage capital in our campaigns. We need to develop strategies that leverage the financial power of workers’ pension funds and endowments in order to win common good demands.
7) The campaign doesn’t end once the union settles its contract. Bargaining for the common good is about building long-term community-labor power, not about giving unions some good publicity during a contract fight. The boss doesn’t automatically become a good actor once the contract is settled and the community’s demands don’t become any less important.
This information comes from the BCG website – see more there: www.bargainingforthecommongood.org/