October 5, 2015
Bergen County, NJ – Union volunteers introduced to app-based labor walk packets for the first time in New Jersey recently, returned from the latest labor walk hugely enthusiastic about the new technology. Feedback from the volunteers who downloaded the app was overwhelmingly positive. Most said it was easy and fun to use, as well as being a lot more efficient than traditional paper packets.
Labor walks are held on Saturday mornings throughout the fall election season. They provide the New Jersey State AFL-CIO’s officers and political education team the opportunity to gauge union members’ support for specific candidates, including the 67 rank-and-file union members who are running for offices throughout New Jersey. The walks are a key component of our labor program, which helps union brothers and sisters win their elections.
Volunteers meet at a union hall before 9 a.m., are assigned a neighborhood or turf and given a list of union households to visit. The volunteers engage union members who are at home in a brief conversation about the election, then record each member’s level of support for the candidate(s) – strong, moderate, undecided or weak. Candidate fliers are left for those who are not at home. Traditionally, the responses are recorded by hand and the data is later scanned and uploaded – a process that is both time-consuming and cumbersome.
Electronic labor walk packets are changing that, however. The smart phone app called MiniVAN enables volunteers to record members’ level of support electronically. They can also note when a union member is not at home, so the household can be contacted at another time. The data is collected in real time and uploaded at the end of the walk.
Downloading the app and learning how to use it takes just a few minutes. The app has a map feature that allows labor walk volunteers to efficiently plan and complete the day’s route. Electronic labor walk packets have the potential of being fast, flexible and efficient. Because of the overwhelming success of the pilot project at the Bergen County Central Labor Council, the New Jersey State AFL-CIO plans to expand the use of the app throughout the state immediately.
“The successful introduction of app-based technology strengthens our labor movement’s get-out-the-vote effort and is further proof that the New Jersey State AFL-CIO labor program is second to none,” said Charles Wowkanech, New Jersey State AFL-CIO president. “This new digital technology will be an integral part of our political program during labor walks through the fall, and on Election Day.”