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[Excerpt] There are two organizing models that are effective among clerical workers. One model is the media-oriented, high-tech type of organizing. AFSCME does this very well; some other unions have also used it effectively. It starts with polling and opinion research on the work force that might be organized. This is followed up by targeted direct mail, telephone banks, radio and TV ads, campaign-specific newspapers and so on. This type of campaign is most appropriate for large public-sector units, especially when the clericals work in multiple locations. It is an important and successful means of organizing, but it has limited private-sector potential.

The other successful model for organizing clerical workers is the grass-roots mass participation model, where the union staff representative builds the committee, and then the committee does the actual organizing. This approach was successful at Harvard University and at other high-visibility universities such as Columbia and Yale. It is also the approach that has been used in many less well publicized campaigns in the public and private sectors. This type of organizing is a very slow process because it is done one-on-one, worker-to-worker; but it builds strong commitment and involvement in the union.


Suggested Citation

Hurd, R. W. (1989). Organizing clerical workers [Electronic version]. In P. Wilson (Ed.), Meeting the challenges of change: Unions and the white collar work force (pp. 5-11). Washington, DC: AFL-CIO.

Required Publisher Statement

Reprinted with permission.