MAC provides quick member signup

Trish Campbell helped Michelle Irwin quickly join AFSCME, which gave her family access to free college, and Irwin a strong collective voice.
Trish Campbell helped Michelle Irwin quickly join AFSCME, which gave her family access to free college, and Irwin a strong collective voice.
 
 

When Michelle Irwin called Council 5's Member Action Center to learn about the free college benefit, she discovered something surprising:  She was a fee payer, not a member like she thought.

A new technology helped change that in just a few minutes – she joined by phone using voice authorization. “It was very simple,” says Irwin of Local 1129. “I didn’t even realize that was all there was to it. It worked out nifty.”

Michelle Irwin
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Becoming an AFSCME member qualified Irwin and her family for two free years of online college. One of her sons, who just graduated high school, will study criminal justice through the AFSCME program this fall. She’s hoping her older son will take advantage of the program, too, which provides two years of online community college, debt-free.

“That is absolutely fantastic,” she says. “College is so expensive nowadays. I don’t want him to have to go through college and come out with huge student debt.”

Her family has experienced this firsthand. Her husband worked at a union printing company that got bought out by a non-union shop and lost his job.It also was crucial to Irwin to vote on union contracts and elections, and to add strength during negotiations. “It’s important to say in the climate now that you are a union member,” Irwin says. “I feel that union members are better represented. They can make a livable wage, and they cannot be just let go for no reason and replaced by someone who makes a lower wage.”

“The job security is very good with unions versus non-union,” Irwin says, adding that without unions, when workers experience age discrimination, there’s nobody to represent them.

MAC field representative Trish Campbell – who took Irwin’s call and helped her join AFSCME – couldn't agree more. 

“Strength in numbers gives workers more power to negotiate a fair return on their work,” says Campbell, a longtime political activist and organizer who most recently worked with the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group. “Employers view fee payers as anti-union. They count them as people who are against better wages, benefits and working conditions. I feel strongly that unions are only as strong as the members. They’re only as strong as their leadership. And the leaders of our union are the members.”