Seiu brief v3


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strategy for mobile phone program which opens up communities of working-poor women for organization by Canada's largest healthcare union

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Seiu brief v3

  1. 1. a cup of tea a proposal for a membership organizing program for SEIU Local 1 Canada © 2013 brendan howley
  2. 2. brief: “a cup of tea” primary objective: discover, identify and organize 20,000 unknown, unidentified, unorganized personal support homecare/ healthcare workers (PSWs) in five targeted cities in Ontario by Q4 2014. How? By offering the PSWs a “cup of tea” via a mobile phone-driven outreach campaign—the chance to talk about their lives, about their hopes, their dreams of a better life for themselves and their families on their own terms: to own their own life experience. The “cup of tea” engagement concept is designed for compatibility with the multiple cultures for which a shared cup of tea is a symbol of trust, respite, conversation and friendship. U secondary objectives: [1] mobilize SEIU stakeholders [clergy/church groups, media, university students, human rights groups, persuaded politicians] to [a] evangelize and recruit community leaders in targeted catchment populations and therefore [b] catalyze fear-free dialogue (“a cup of tea”) with prospective SEIU members; [2] incite political action by SEIU stakeholder communities, allies, and (especially) neutralize/ convert potential foes in order to regulate an unregulated healthcare market for the benefit of its workers, their clients and for a greater return on taxpayer investment; [3] make history and grow the SEIU brand by headmanning the biggest single union new membership enrolment in Canada in a generation 20,000 unorganized PSWs 8,000 SEIU members
  3. 3. strategy: overview Mine the vast number of untold PSW stories through the “cup of tea” program - an invitation to prospective members to engage in a conversation that will allow us to draw attention to their good work. The resulting “story engine” serves two purposes: to increase public awareness of homecare workers' contribution to society and to establish a rapport and general good-will with prospective members to increase the probability of new memberships. trust is paramount The critical element is that the storytelling play out in in a fear-free, risk-free way:“a cup of tea.” The “cup of tea” program's 'story engine' is the sum-total of all the untold stories of the prospective members. Odds are, given the 80% success rate in recruitment in the existing literature, a significant proportion of prospective members approached for “a cup of tea”—and, when the timing is right, a video interview—will recruit themselves after telling their own story. (In many cultures, nothing “happens” until the “third cup of tea,” when trust is established amongst all participants. trust as outreach When the prospective member is completely at ease with the process, the “cup of tea” interview sessions will be videotaped for social and orthodox media dissemination via brief, punchy videoclips drawn from interviews.These interviews will be filmed by SEIU “news teams” for online and smartphone mobile viewing and sharing. That storytelling is coordinated with a mobile phone outreach program designed to win otherwise impossible-to-reach prospective new members, using well-established SMS mobile outreach practices proven in women-centric programs in the developing world. project ecosystem
  4. 4. mobile phone outreach “village elders” mobile phone outreach These 'PSW-storytellers' are identified and located by an SMS text outreach campaign run by trained, mobile phone-equipped SEIU volunteer recruiters. The SMS calltree model is based on well-established successes by the Grameen Bank in Bengal and East Africa, identifying trustworthy female tribal/“village elders” who, once equipped with mobile phones, led economic and social change campaigns far more effectively than any outside “aid program.” These recruiters give away simple, cheap “free texting” mobile phones with airtime delimited service packages to leaders in the prospect communities (ethnic, linguistic, geolocated), who network the SEIU's membership opportunity to prospects otherwise unknown to SEIU. There is no risk to the prospective members: they feel safe, trusted and have a “lifeline” all their own to SEIU and its support/organizing network. challenge: what about the expense of “giving away” phones? solution: Alcatel’s $2 (correct: two bucks) phone, available, unlocked, in Canada by special order to UK.With a Rogers or Telus SIMM card ($10), a prospective SEIU member can be in constant free touch with an SEIU volunteer recruiter/mentor for $17.55/month via unlimited text. ( in the US can help SEIU with system wrinkles and rollout, given the company’s experiences with MoveOn.Org and other US social justice entities.) In other words, the cost of acquisition of a new prospect in hard costs is >$32 per new member if each recruitment takes a full month of SMS mobile use. If one phone results in four recruitments/month, raw cost is $8 per new member.
  5. 5. the “call tree”: organic networking outreach The SMS calltrees “grow” like this: a “village elder” who trusts SEIU and its intentions asks SEIU permission to give an SEIU-owned phone to prospective SEIU member unknown to SEIU. The phone’s SIMM can be pre-set to prevent longdistance calls and other abuses. If the “village elder” receives permission to give the phone to a prospect, a text conversation begins. The aim of the text conversation is either immediate recruitment (if possible) or a slower conversion process around a broaching the the idea of video interview for the prospect to tell her story to the SEIU “news team.” Once the prospect is recruited, the phone is handed off to the next prospect by the “village elder”—in the best case, with a recommendation by the phone’s present user—and the cycle begins again. outcomes [1] SEIU becomes a trusted voice by fearful prospective members and their networks [2] SEIU becomes an “SMS publisher,” sharing SEIU benefits, professional tips and networking options via daily “newsbreaks” in appropriate language, with SMS-embedded URL links to allied YouTube and Facebook experiences print advertising media broadcast social media outreach the SEIU “story engine”: story as “call to action” The “cup of tea” storytelling system is simple: SEIU acts as “publisher” to tell the stories.There is no political or organizing ‘message’: the aim is pure emotional impact, based on the power of the PSW stories we hear and record. For more see
  6. 6. There are two genres of video storytelling in this system: [1] the PSWs and [2] stakeholders supporting them: their clients, their “village elders,” even their families. Once identified, these prospects interviewed by the SEIU “news team,” interviews designed to be distilled to brief, tight (>90secs), professionally edited videoclips telling the prospective members’ stories and (best case) including comments from their client, praising their work. (Of course, new members are asked to be part of the same process, likewise their client base.) These videoclips are published by SEIU for mobile consumption and sharing across app networks such as WhatsApp and online on SEIU'sYouTube channel. The videoclips are also formatted for embedding in SEIU emails and in SMS to the growing “call tree” network so prospective members with internet access can see and hear SEIU members who’ve “crossed the moat” and are now advocates. In essence, prospective members become their own best media channel, with SEIU mediating distribution and tracking incoming prospect coordinates for followup conversations to organize the new members. stakeholders These interviews are designed specifically as “calls to action” to stakeholders to [1] motivate other SEIU prospective members and [2] move and incite stakeholders by telling highly personal, highly relevant stories about meaningful work, personal service, the importance of the caregiver relationship, and, [3] in context, show why, with an aging population and an unregulated personal service worker marketplace, union representation will raise standards of care well beyond the incremental costs of “living wage” increases. This last point is critical: demonstrating to all that an SEIU-mediated business model for PSWs simply makes good business sense in an Ontario healthcare environment under severe funding, demographic and service provider pressures.
  7. 7. all clients disabled seniors media politicians community groups “village elders” audiences: Simply put, the sum-total of all stakeholders is the audience ecosystem for this project—our storytelling touches everyone: that’s the nature and power of shared story. For one thing, we’ll need all the help we can get to organize 20,000 prospects; further, political action across the entire movement-for-change ecosystem—from SEIU volunteers to university students to activist lawyers to Queens Park—demands we effectively share these powerful stories-for-change challenges (risk-sensing): [1] downside of any public approach to a fearful, anonymous group of at-risk individuals is exposing them to employer threats and worse [2] any social media exposure invites “flaming,” “spamming” and abusive behaviours [3] a program predicated on mobile telephone “call trees” is subject to potential abuse of texting privileges and loss of the device [4] political opposition [5] media opposition [6] community ignorance [7] client opposition
  8. 8. messages: Safety. Dignity. Respect. Pride. Change. Possibility.A simple cup of tea that changes everything. tactics: (sample communications vehicles/programs) social media outreach social media clear channels for spreading stories across social media venues: • deploy twitter to drive traffic to Facebook hub content extend conversation generated by SMS communications • propagate video to Pinterest and Tumblr to maximize sharing potential across all stakeholder communities, especially socially aware, politically active women 18-45. • build SEIU/PSW contact tab on (password protected/‘secret group’) Facebook to make it easy for prospective members to get answers to difficult questions. • create campaign-specific FAQ set from best ones to help inform the rest of the group; direct quotes from SEIU thought-leaders via videoclips onsite • align all social media storytelling to mobilize volunteers/union staff to help recruit prospective members in specific languages, in culturally appropriate ways • identify Canadian bloggers who focus on social issues, contact them, and set up a timed content distribution system to give them ready access to the SEIU stories and core SEIU messaging.They'll create blog posts that will help mobilize other social activist groups orthodox media community newspaper ads; arts events (photography exhibitions, special dinners, townhalls); community radio station appearances; message boards in temples, churches, social clubs, coffee shops and specialty food stores well-known in ethnic communities;
  9. 9. secondary: ad placements on public transport in the five target cities, with messaging focussing on trust and care for the PSWs themselves and making them aware of mobile phone outreach campaign.“The biggest changes in life sometimes start with a simple cup of tea” evangelists Awareness outreach via face2face meetings with “first responders” likely to have contact with prospective PSW member prospects • librarians • public health staff • CCAC staff brand alliances? other tactics: explore brand alliances with suppliers of items PSWs actually use to sponsor scholarships/stipends/professional development programming for new SEIU members as corporate social responsibility piece and community “give back” opportunity • sterile gloves • hand sanitizer • wet wipes Also: approach local, regional and national tea companies with clear social justice brand value as “hostess” for SEIU “cups of tea” timelines/coordination: program development cycle: 90 days from approval pre-launch logistics/training volunteer pieces: 45 days post-development cycle program critical path:TBD based on audit internal/volunteer resources prior to budget lock
  10. 10. budget: Outside of SEIU existing infrastructure (organizing and communications staff, telecom overheads, mileage/per diem, web resources, web developer) the following budget line-items are conversation-starters only, to develop a full-on budget: I’ve no certain idea what resources SEIU can practically dedicate to this proposed program without an audit of available assets/talent. • 25 “give away” mobile phones and monthly minimum plans @$35 each per month for 24 months = $21,000 (assumes “start to finish” mobile usage: unlikely, as program will naturally grow to personal word of mouth beyond mobile “call tree”) • 1000 “cups of tea” @$2.50 each (incl tip) = $2,500 • video interviews: camera/audio talent @$15/hr (filmmaking or digital journalism students/ Ryerson, Fanshawe, Conestoga, UWO, UofT, Carleton) • assume 150 interviews @ 2hrs each worktime = $4500 + HST • editing video interviews @$35/hr @ 350h (review total captured footage + edit) = $12500 + HST • media placements (not essential but likely beneficial): public transport display ads (in-vehicle and select external-vehicle) and community newspaper classifieds item rationale cost 25 “giveaway” mobile phones @ $35/month for 24 months contact/”word of mouth” networking strategy $21,000 + HST (NB: assumes full month mobile cost to acquire new member) 1000 “cups of tea” @ $2.50 each, incl tip trust-building social encounter to set up recruitment and interview ‘ask’ $2,500 “news team” video interview talent filmmaker/journalism students keen on social activism ‘learn by doing’ $4500 + HST editing talent ditto $12,500 + HST OPTIONAL: public transport ad/s: rolling ad placements, one city at a time, over five months for 30 days “drive to SMS”: incites interest in getting in touch w/”village elders” to get SEIU “lifeline mobile phone” $3500 + HST (average publishing/ placement cost) x 5 month = $16,500 + HST OPTIONAL: community newspaper (native language) classified ads incites interest in getting in touch w/”village elders” to get SEIU “lifeline mobile phone” five 30 day placements x 10 newspapers total @ $25 + HST = $1250 + HST $58,250 + HST
  11. 11. what does success look like? Extant research on PSW organizing in the US via the Los Angeles and northern California SEIU recruitment drives (Delp/Quan, 2004) suggests a positive response rate of some 80%, a figure echoed in Gail Acton’s white paper (2009). Assuming we reach 50% of all possible as-yet unorganized PSWs, some 10,000 women, and we succeed in recruiting 75% of those within 24 months of launch, that’s 7500 successful new members. At the suggested “above the line” “conversation-starter” budget outlined above, that’s a cost of acquisition per new member of $58,000/7500 or $7.76 over two years. Thank you.