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Hooking the kids: social movement or marketing ploy? - look for the union label [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
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Hooking the kids: social movement or marketing ploy? [Aug. 4th, 2006|09:54 pm]
look for the union label


So I've been thinking this over, and now i'm at the point where i look for external input.

I was at this last weekend, and a fair sized aspect (the first day, in fact) of it was dedicated to what's been dubbed Generation S. To generalize, members under 30. Ideally, it's, to borrow a beat-down catchphrase, the leaders of tomorrow. An attempt to harness and gather those of us that are young, active, have new perspectives, all of those good things, and work it towards...Something.

All right, I thought. Solid. If union people should be able to do ANYTHING well amongst themselves, it's organize. Especially when, in the case of the generation S meetings there, 1/2 the group are organizers. However, while there was enthusiasm, there was motivation, there were even segments who had young worker programs and systems to identify/foster leaders in place..There was little to no real plan on how this willcould ever happen on a national basis.

Later on, when speaking to another organizer who sat in on the same pretty fractious and nonproductive meeting, the question was raised...Why? What is the purpose of this program? In a perfect world scenario, what happens? We develop new leaders? We take over SEIU? we get a spot on the international's E Board? Why is it happening?

This, really, is what i've been turning over, and i wish i could say i came up with something more inspirational and moving than i have. As i'm seeing it, it's a tool. Tell a member or organizer who's 26 that he could work at his local level to improve things and, by premise of affiliation, be part of a bigger effort, that's a bit too abstract to really satisfy anyone but the most pure of idealists. Tell them that their presence is part of a movement, put a name and image to it, get them all in the same room, and there you go. Now it's a personal connection. Now it's a revolution(of sorts). Now even cynics could imagine the power of these people working together, united under the same issues, the same concerns, and yes, the same name. Instead of being Tiger Woods or a Toys R Us kid, you can be Generation S.

Now, before i sound like a total cynic on this, i admit openly that i got a lot from it. Speaking to people with similar situations, facing challenges unique to younger members, especially in/working toward leadership positions in locals, it can be extremely enlightening. But I suppose my concern is that what looks like a movement when the music is playing and everyone's pumped up is going to come off more like a commercial in the all-too-well-lit morning after.

I'm a firm believer that SEIU, or ANY union, will be what we make it, so i can understand the idea of trying to gather like minds to discuss what we see it as and want it to be. But when does it just turn into marketing?

Aside from the inevitable overthinking of issues...Any other SEIU people who may've been in atlanta?