Arlene Holt Baker, the AFL-CIO's EVP, talks to Jaimy Lee about the labor movement, the current economy, and social media.
PRWeek: What are your main goals through the rest of 2009?
Baker: We must stop expecting people to borrow their way into the middle class, and allow them to start bargaining their way into the middle class. That is what the Employee Free Choice Act is all about. I am confident we'll pass significant labor law reform this year. Healthcare reform is also critical to restoring our economy.
PRWeek: How does the AFL-CIO choose which issues to focus on?
Baker: We listen to our members. Working people are sick and tired of an economy that only works for the wealthy. This passion has propelled the AFL-CIO to work toward big changes and accomplish great things on behalf of working families.
PRWeek: How have your audiences changed in recent years?
Baker: If anything, they've grown. Unfortunately, more families are feeling the burdens of an economy that is out of whack. The AFL-CIO speaks out on behalf of all working people, whether they're part of unions or not. That's what the union movement has always been about.
PRWeek: What are the main platforms for getting the AFL-CIO's messages out?
Baker: We talk to members through an intensive grassroots program, coworker to coworker, at people's homes, on the phone, and in the mail. We also communicate via e-mail and online, so people have up-to-date information on what's happening in Washington. We are mobilizing like never before to pass labor law and healthcare reform and will continue to activate millions on working family issues.
PRWeek: Are these programs effective in getting out your main messages?
Baker: Online activism allows us unprecedented reach, but many working people are still not online. That's why the union movement communicates face-to-face with members at the work site and even in their homes. An e-mail can be effective, but it's hard to match a conversation with your union steward.