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Maine Delegation Completes Six-Week Organizing Training

Andy O’Brien
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Twenty-five Mainers from eight unions just finished a six-week Organizing for Power training where they learned key tools for organizing their workplace and community and building worker power. Workers from over 70 countries took part in the training. Workers from Maine included members of the MSEA-SEIU, UAW, IBEW, UFCW, MEA, IATSE, APWU and the Brunswick Tenants’ Union.

The training covered several areas including leader identification, using proper semantics to center each worker’s active participation, having structured organizing conversations, charting and structure tests.

“I expected it to be more union based," said APWU member Lori Poland, "but I found I could use those lessons in other parts of my life too, like in other organizations, political groups and even community groups."

Poland said the lessons about proper organizing semantics was particularly useful. She says she typically uses the word “we” when having organizing conversations to be inclusive, but at O4P they teach organizers to stress the “you” in union. By putting the onus on the person to be active in their union, it encourages workers to take more ownership and responsibility for their unions.

Devon Medeiros, Business Agent for IATSE Local 114, said the highlights of the training were the “fishbowl” activities where groups of participants shared their answers to various exercises in real time in front of the whole class.

“It put a lot into perspective, especially hearing people’s interpretations based on different scenarios. Everything there was pertinent to what we do,” he said. “Even though we’re a smaller organization compared to some of the large unions organizing nurses or teachers — we might be looking at a venue with two people or 30 people — it’s still all of the same principles.”

Currently IATSE 114 is in negotiations with Oak View Group, which manages the Cross Insurance Arena (Cumberland County Civic Center).

“We negotiated our last contract coming out of COVID so we’re playing a lot of catch up with the venue and they’ve been fairly receptive,” said Medeiros.

Poland said the class also gave her the opportunity to meet workers from around Maine, from labor unions to a tenant union.

“It was a good way to meet other people that way and I definitely want some members of my local to go, not because we’re organizing a new local but just because it will help us internally to keep our organizing going,” she said.

All are welcome to join our next class starting in February, 2025. Visit our website for more information.