Barnes shares value of union membership

A good worksite organizer is an invaluable asset to any chapter because they take the lead in introducing new employees to OSEA and explaining the value of union membership.

According to Chapter President Denise Chase, Central Chapter 124 has a “rock star example” in Worksite Organizer Tracy Barnes.

“She is a natural at ‘the ask,’” Chase said. “When people meet her, they immediately understand they can go to her for any kind of support they may need.”

Central Chapter 124’s Tracy Barnes, a worksite organizer at Talmadge Middle School, recruits Secretary Elvia Rosales to be a new worksite organizer for Ash Creek Elementary School during part of the chapter’s All In Membership Drive in January.

Barnes has been a worksite organizer at Talmadge Middle School ever since OSEA launched the Worksite Organizer Program about three years ago. She said she enjoys the role.

“Being a worksite organizer is not as hard as you might think; it’s just greeting people and welcoming them aboard,” Barnes said. “I try to let everyone know that the union is for them.”

To Barnes, union membership allows people to “be part of something bigger than themselves.” She noted it’s only when workers come together and speak as one that they are able to realize gains at the bargaining table.

Chase said it was because of Barnes’ skills as a communicator that she was recently appointed the chapter’s first-ever “head of worksite organizing.” This role will serve as an extra line of communication between worksite organizers, members and the chapter executive board.

Barnes also played a key part in last year’s All In Membership Drive, which featured a series of worksite visits that Chase credits with forging connections with members in ways the chapter had never done before. Chase said the chapter plans on holding such worksite visits again this year.

“We believe this effort will keep our membership numbers strong despite efforts from anti-union groups,” Chase said. “Tracy will be a huge part of that process. We are very blessed to have her on board as a worksite organizer.”

So far this academic year, Talmadge Middle School has added two new employees, and Barnes has been able to bring both of them into the OSEA family.

“I catch them as soon as they’re doing their orientation,” Barnes said, adding that she also does her best to answer any questions her new coworkers may have.

“If I don’t know an answer, I try to find out for them,” Barnes said. “I never want to leave our people hanging.”

OSEA offers worksite organizer trainings around the state. These trainings are designed to produce more confident and effective union members. If a chapter wants to schedule training, leaders should call the State Office at 800-252-6732.

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