Surely by now most of us have at least heard the term “mobilization” used in connection with the BLET, and are aware that the GIA has a Mobilization Program as well. But do you really know what mobilization is? Quite simply, mobilization is the grassroots involvement of the membership in worksite issues, and in broader issues that affect not only our daily lives, but also our communities. At the heart of mobilization is the recognition that a union’s strength lies with its members. It’s about creating a movement to work together and demonstrate our unity. If we are mobilized, we can take action on a moment’s notice.
The GIA Mobilization network was started in 1997 when a few forward-thinking BLE and GIA officers realized the potential impact that spouses and families could have in effecting changes in working conditions for our engineers and trainmen. A group of GIA members and officers met with BLE educators in Shreveport, La., to learn the concept of mobilization, its power, and how to establish a plan for the GIA. Not long after that meeting, a flyer was distributed inviting spouses and family members to join the GIA’s Mobilization Network. In September 2001, at the Seventh Quinquennial Convention in Miami Beach, Fla., a resolution was enacted to add the position of Mobilization Coordinator to the list of local auxiliary officers.
Auxiliary Mobilization Coordinators are responsible for creating and maintaining a current list of members, including names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses. These lists are forwarded to the GIA International Mobilization Coordinator, a position currently held by International Vice President Mabel Grotzinger.
This network is the most efficient way we have to communicate with our members on important issues. When an issue arises that impacts all of us, we can contact our members quickly to notify them regarding the issue, why we need to support it, and instructions regarding what action needs to be taken. With e-mail becoming a widely used form of communication in almost every household, we can use it to expeditiously contact our members in a very cost-effective manner.
During the Railroad Retirement Reform fight in 2001, and more recently, during the National Mediation Board (NMB) Campaign, our Mobilization Network provided the ability to contact GIA members to urge them to write letters and make telephone calls regarding these issues. During the Railroad Retirement Reform fight, those of us (both GIA and BLET) who had provided our e-mail addresses to our National Legislative Rep, Becky Schneider, were continually updated with detailed instructions on who to contact and even how to word our requests. We believe this movement had a profound effect in the final hours of the voting process on this legislation, resulting in a victory that will impact railroad families for years to come.
The NMB Campaign was another success. The mass of e-mails, phone calls, and letters that the NMB received from BLET and GIA members on a daily basis persuaded the Board not to release the carriers from national negotiations with the BLET and UTU.
We must work to strengthen the GIA so that we have coverage across the country when issues arise that impact the livelihood of us all. It is imperative that we have accurate information on all of our members in order to be successful during times when we must mobilize quickly. If you have not already done so, please be sure that Mabel Grotzinger or Becky Schneider has your contact information for our Mobilization Program. If you are not currently a GIA member, please consider joining so that you can help make a difference in the lives of our railroad families. Send your information to:
Mabel Grotzinger at:
Becky Schneider at:
phone (915) 581-1373.