Last summer, PROTEC17’s intern from the Washington State Labor Council, Xochi Suarez, led an effort to gather input from our younger members through several focus groups. With the help of Union Representative Alex Il and a core group of new member-leaders, the group that formed in King County has grown and expanded in the last six months into the ‘Young Members of PROTEC17’ (YMP).
On Jan. 30, the YMP held an event to boost interest in the union among younger members and find pathways to get their voices into the many different workgroups in which PROTEC17 is currently involved at the County. With contract negotiations slated to begin in mid-March, one of the big priorities is getting new voices and perspectives on the bargaining team.
Over 50 young members showed up to the successful lunchtime event where the YMP proposed different questions to their fellow colleagues, ranging from: what social justice issues are important to you? What have been your barriers to getting more involved with your union? And what do you want to see in the next contract?
The successful member-led event – several months in the making – helped YMP leaders meet other young members at King County and to answer their questions about union membership, as well as get valuable feedback on which issues are most important to them.
“This event was important because it served as a great opportunity for younger members of the union to leave better informed about the ways in which the union is able to support them and how they can take a more involved role in participating in their union,” said Naod Sebhat, a YMP and Engineer in the Department of Natural Resources and Parks.
“Young members voices have traditionally not been well represented within the union but growing this YMP group is hopefully a way to address this issue.”
As many long-time members begin to retire and new workers come on board, it is vital that younger employees identify as PROTEC17, and find ways to engage in leadership roles. The YMP will be analyzing the feedback they received in January and will reach out to members more regularly in the future. Additionally, the King County negotiations survey is now open – young members are encouraged to take the survey and volunteer for the bargaining team!