When Mike Hodges became its president six and a half years ago, Local 3509 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, had only 73 members, 56 non-members, and two members from AT&T Mobility. As a result of hard work on both internal and external organizing, the local now has 179 members and only 23 non members at AT&T, and has achieved a 93% AT&T Mobility membership.
Hodges knew that in order to properly represent the members, the local needed dedicated leaders to create a solid core to rebuild and organize.
The local's success in pursuing a grievance to get an employee reassigned to a different location to care for an ailing family member made members feel like the union could help them if they stood together to support one another. As members were able to see that the union had their back, members started participating more in the local.
Local 3509's members are now represented by a coalition of four officers and 14 stewards.
"We believe that you cannot have a successful external organizing campaign unless you first have a very strong organized local," says Hodges. "With hard work, perseverance, and motivation, we have built Local 3509 into a dedicated and focused group of officers and stewards. This is the driving force behind our continued success organizing internally, which is now being focused externally to help organize others."
The local's first opportunity to organize new members came with AT&T's acquisition of DIRECTV.
When statewide DTV field tech organizing began, Local 3509 jumped in and helped lead the statewide effort, sending members to help locals in other locations reach a majority sign up quickly. The local's team of volunteers successfully organized the DTV techs in its area.