2015 July - September - David R. Scoville: An update on the Brotherhood's CAT Program

Published: Jul 1 2015 10:00AM

Beginning in March of this year, our Brotherhood’s Communication Action Team (CAT) started visiting railroad worksites around the country. CAT organizers focused on inperson engagement with membership and gathering member input concerning National Bargaining through a Contract Survey. We’ve also strived to ensure a collection of good contact info for all BMWED members so that we can communicate effectively through email, social media and text messaging.

Hopefully, you’ve had the opportunity to meet with a CAT organizer or trained Front Line Communicator at your worksite and been able to complete a survey. If you have not, please reach out to your General Chairman or the CAT Internal Organizing Coordinator and let them know you are interested in more information. The CAT Coordinator is Carey Dall and he can be reached by email at cdall@bmwe.org.

Several members have inquired about the survey results. Below is an update of what we’ve achieved so far (through the end of September). We have accomplished a lot in a short time, but we are not stopping here! The following numbers are only preliminary results. We will continue our worksite visits with the survey for another few months at least. Our goal is to get 10,000 surveys from BMWED members by the New Year. (It is important to note that these numbers are not completely reflective of how the membership views the issues overall – we still have a lot of members to survey!)

  • Worksites visited: 380 and counting
  • Surveys collected: 4,000 and counting
  • Survey results:
    • Health care as the #1 issue: 50.3 percent
    • Wages as #1 issue: 23.8 percent
    • Additional paid time off as #1: 9.7 percent
    • Safety as #1 issue: 6.3 percent
    • Travel pay as #1: 4.7 percent
    • No response: 5.2 percent

In addition to the results above, members selected Health Care as a #2 issue on 23.1 percent of surveys, while Wages as a #2 issue received 37.8 percent. Clearly, those two issues are the primary concern of our membership, as well as the leading focus of our leadership as we head deeper into National Bargaining.

While the survey is an important portion of our CAT program, the ability to meet with members at the worksite has been a truly remarkable and vital aspect of this campaign. Our presence on the property has been very wellreceived, and the conversations our Internal Organizers and Front Line Communicators are having on the ground with our rank-in-file are productive, enlightening and exciting. It is obvious that taking the CAT out to the jobsite is producing encouraging results.

While face-to-face interaction is invaluable and impossible to replicate, we do still need ways to communicate important CAT and BMWED information. In the spring of 2014, the BMWED redoubled its efforts in social media, with a heavy concentration on Facebook. The “Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division” Facebook page has quintupled in size in just 18 months. In March 2014, the page had just shy of 800 followers. As of the end of September, that number hovers close to 4,100 and continues to grow by the hundreds every month.

On the BMWED’s Facebook page, you can find Brotherhood news updates, newspaper stories on relevant rail and rail labor subjects, classic track work photographs, messages from BMWED members and leadership, as well as CAT team updates. Please click “like” on our Facebook page and encourage your Brothers and Sisters to do so as well.

Our CAT team is making great strides in connecting our rank-infile membership ahead of what will be a contested bargaining session and an unpredictable political climate. We are just getting started, but I am excited to see the early progress we have made. I believe the CAT program is vital to the health of our Brotherhood, and I am encouraged to see the traction we have made so far. I hope that you will stand in unity with us as our Brotherhood powers forward on this important project.