Meet Joe Member

Meet Joe Member

The Challenge of Today's Working Middle Class

Meet Joe Member

Joe Member has spent the past few years working as an independent contractor, but he recently decided it's time to join the union. He's been frustrated by the constant need to hunt for his next project, and by taking smaller jobs for less than he knows his effort is worth. He's frightened by the idea that an injury could spell disaster for his family. Even when working, he's barely been able to cover his bills, let alone start saving for retirement.

Joe MemberJoe also worries another economic downturn could lead to downsizing at his wife's company. Some months, her salary is the only way they're able to cover their mortgage. They rely on her job for the kids' healthcare coverage, but her company stopped offering spousal benefits as a way of cutting costs, leaving Joe completely uncovered.

Joe needs help, and in the union he sees a way to give his family a better life. As technology changes, he'll have access to the training that keeps him at the top of his industry. As one of the best-trained members of his profession, Joe knows he'll have the edge he needs to get the best jobs and command a higher wage.

When Joe shows up for training or attends a rally at the State House in support of living wage legislation, he knows the union is looking out for him. For the first time, his entire family is covered by health insurance, and he is finally saving for his kids' education and for his own retirement. The union gives Joe a sense of security he has never had before. He has put his faith in the union and its leadership, and he trusts they'll take good care of him and his family for years to come.

What Joe may not realize is that his security depends on the union maintaining an ongoing story about Joe: a "truth" about who he is, what he's done and where he's been. Every time he shows up at a new job, completes a certification or takes his kids to the pediatrician, Joe is relying on the union to have accurate, up to date information about his seniority, his training and his benefits - all of which are manually keyed in to disparate systems at his local lodge, again at the state council office, and finally at the national headquarters. Ideally, these systems all combine to tell the same story about Joe - a single version of his truth.

...UnionTrack gives every officer and staff member access to an accurate version of Joe's truth - a single record, updated in real time across the entire union ecosystem...

The single version of Joe's truth is obvious to Joe, but to the union, it's a lot more complicated. If Joe moves, his truth changes. If his family grows, the truth changes again. The third-party benefits administrator, the local lodge and the state council's training center all contribute pieces. And every time Joe's truth changes, there's a chance for new "false truths" to emerge.

MEET JOE'S UNION

At Joe's local lodge, maintaining a single version of his truth is more complicated.

The Secretary-Treasurer of Joe's union worked his way up from the rank and file and is committed to looking out for his members. But in recent years, looking out for Joe has meant defending against a near-constant onslaught of anti-labor sentiment driven by both an organized business community and anti-labor politicians who have taken control of the state and local governments.

He remembers when the union label signified the best work done by the most highly skilled, highly trained American workers. What used to be a badge of honor has become a target on the backs of his members. It's become harder to organize as the anti-union voices have grown louder and more united, weakening labor's voice in the public debate. His greatest fear is this will be the year that the State Labor Federation loses the vote on right to work legislation, setting working families back even further.

Lately, the Secretary-Treasurer feels like he's spending all his time trying to keep the union - and his members - afloat. He's negotiating contracts with dozens of employers, finalizing the union's new health plan and trying to avert a strike when the CBA with the area's largest employer expires next month. He feels like he's losing his connection to Joe and the other members, the people who pay his salary and trust him to be their voice.

He'd like to be organizing new members, fighting hard for an increase in the minimum wage and expanding the course offerings at the new Joint Apprenticeship Training Center, but his administrative duties are all consuming.

The office staff is just as overworked as he is. Over the years, looking out for Joe has been challenged by layers of bureaucracy and systems, none of which talk to each other. The union's membership, accounting and benefits departments all maintain separate databases to account for Joe's dues, his family's health premiums and the grievance he filed last month.

And, of course, it's not just Joe. With thousands of members working for hundreds of employers, the union staff spends hours every day entering and re-entering small changes, doing their best to ensure there's always a single version of the truth for each member.

Every time Joe's truth changes, the update has to be entered into all of the Lodge's individual systems. A slight difference in a form, a hard-to-decipher piece of Joe's handwriting, or even a small typo can create a false truth, and the consequences for Joe can be very real.

He may be kept off a worksite if he can't prove his certifications are up to date. He may not be able to pick up a prescription at the pharmacy. When he retires, Joe may have problems applying for his pension.

In every one of these cases, the union will still be there for Joe, but every time he runs into a false truth, the security he felt as a union member is slightly diminished. His confidence that the union is looking out for him is slightly shaken.

For the Secretary-Treasurer, every false truth costs hours in staff time that could be spent growing the union. On top of that, losing Joe's confidence - and potentially his membership - feels like a personal failure.

MEET UNIONTRACK


UnionTrack logoUnionTrack unifies union operations, ensuring that - for every Joe, Josephine, José, Jodi or Joseph, there will never be more than a single, accurate version of truth. We provide a single system for tracking a member's lifecycle, incorporating membership management, dues processing, training, political activity, grievances, CBAs and mandated reporting. UnionTrack gives every officer and staff member access to an accurate version of Joe's truth - a single record, updated in real time across the entire union ecosystem. We eliminate repetitive administrative tasks, free staff to focus on the missions at the core of the labor movement and - most importantly, make sure Joe never loses faith in the union.

We believe in the labor movement because we're union members ourselves. We've seen the struggles, and we're here to help. We watched as united anti-labor forces successfully divided the movement, eroding worker protections, driving down wages and blocking the path to prosperity. We are driven by the knowledge that when labor is strong and united from within, all Americans prosper!

In short, our mission is to use our technology - union built technology - to help unions reallocate resources toward the activities that truly make a difference for working families: organizing, training and advocacy. In doing so, we hope to strengthen a movement committed to restoring prosperity for all Americans.

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