Convention Discussion: Recruiting — It Takes All Ways

 
BY: Tom Connolly| March 20, 2014

Submitted by Tom Connolly, Chair of the Hartford Service Workers Club, Hartford, CT.

Though our party looks to increase our members, recruiting new members can be challenging. The party should have a regular exchange of on-going and successful recruiting and club building experiences around the country.  Mutual support is always a good idea.  It will help us to learn and grow.

There are several ways of recruiting for the party, including on-line activity, recruiting leaders and rank-and-file activists from picket lines and other actions, and going door-to-door in target neighborhoods with the People’s World newspaper or specific articles from it.

The best way of recruiting would be to use all these interrelated methods.  

Our club, the Hartford Service Workers Club, was formed four years ago with a few comrades.  Our constituency is workers in service industries in the Hartford area.  We are primarily organizers, members and leaders of SEIU affiliated unions. Our club also assists the neighborhood clubs in the area, for example by providing transportation to city or state People’s World and Communist Party events.

The club has recruited several leaders and retirees and we have made progress in establishing a party presence with union activists.  Our goal is to expand our ranks through our contacts with activists and the rank and file.

These are some of the activities we are doing that we hope will enable us to organize more workers into the party:

Organizing, building activity, and leading service union workers

I am currently Vice-President of our 12,000-member retiree union.  The critical issues are protecting Social Security, Medicare, our state health benefits and our pension.  These are the key programs that allow us seniors to remain independent.  

Our club has also already built its membership through this work and expects to recruit more retirees. Other club members are doing similar work in their union locals.

New union organizing  

Last year home care and child care workers in Connecticut won the right to unionize.  SEIU undertook the huge task of making home visits to the thousands of these workers all across the state.  The workers elected to join the union, and the child care workers have recently succeeded in winning a first contract.  

Club members have been active participants in this organizing.  While we are proud of our efforts in an important union drive for thousands of low wage workers, we are still in the early stages of establishing a party presence and possibilities for recruitment of new members.

Strike / picket line participation

In 2012 workers at four nursing homes scattered across Connecticut went out on a strike that lasted over a year.  Our club focused on the picket line in our area.  Members of the club took part in the picketing and other solidarity actions on a regular basis.  We got to know some of the workers.  We wrote up the strike for our Connecticut People’s World edition and brought those and other articles from our paper to the picket line.  They were popular with the strikers and the solidarity was appreciated.  As a result, we continue to enjoy a positive relationship with some of the strikers and we were able to strengthen our bond with the union as a whole.  

In similar work at a different picket line, 20 workers signed up to regularly receive articles from the paper.  Those who have e-mail get the headlines on-line.  All of them were added to the weekly newspaper route in the neighborhood where they live.  In this way those who live in one of the neighborhoods with a Communist Party club are kept in regular contact.

Neighborhoods and the Peoples World

Our club is not a neighborhood club.  However, some of the workers we have come to know through picket lines live in neighborhoods where there is a Communist Party club.  Our experience has been that the presence of a neighborhood club makes a substantial difference in maintaining regular contact after the strike.

The Connecticut Party has been established for years in several neighborhoods in Hartford. People’s World newspaper routes have been ongoing.  The children and grandchildren of those who joined many years ago are now members. This grassroots organizing has shaped the Communist Party and was the inspiration for some members of our Service Workers Club to join the party originally.

On-line  

We have not had the experience of anyone joining on-line from our area.  Only a handful has joined on-line anywhere in Connecticut.  But the use of social media (such as Facebook, which some of our club members use regularly) has been great in spreading People’s World articles and other information  to complement and enhance in-person organizing and discussions that we hope will lead to more recruitment.

We hope to learn how other districts and clubs are working on recruitment to our party and to further grow our membership.


The views and opinions expressed in the Convention Discussion are those of the author alone. The Communist Party is publishing these views as a service to encourage discussion and debate. Those views do not necessarily reflect the views of the Communist Party, its leading bodies or staff members. The CPUSA Constitution, Program, and all its existing policies remain in effect during the Convention discussion period and during the Convention.

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CONVENTION DISCUSSION 
30th National Convention, Communist Party USA
Chicago | June 13-15, 2014

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