As an organization, LIUNA prides itself on providing our members with the skills and training they need to be effective unionists in the twenty-first century. In the Eastern Region, an outgrowth of that dedication to training is our Regional Initiative for Strategic Education—or RISE—program.
RISE provides a structured, tiered and hands-on education and training environment for rank-and-file members to learn about: union history; union organizing and political involvement; public speaking and persuasion; and job site organizing, all with the goal of providing members the tools that they need to advocate for themselves and their union in many of the situations construction craft laborers find themselves in on a daily basis.
With the introduction of a new, invite-only tier—RISE Champions—we are working to provide small groups of LIUNA Eastern Region members with additional hands-on training to help them put into practice the organizing skills they learned in the previous RISE tiers. From salting, to digital organizing, to house calling, to public persuasion, these champions are given real world examples of organizing efforts and work to produce positive results through research, homework and roleplaying exercises, with evaluation coming not from instructors but from the other champions with whom they are working.
RISE Champions have been integral in the success of our ongoing regional organizing efforts, from member-driven campaigns against open shop in New York City, to promoting water infrastructure investment in New Jersey, to exposing improper hazardous waste remediation in Delaware. And we continue to encourage champions to develop and utilize secondary skills and hobbies that may benefit their organizing efforts. For example, all of the photos featured in this article were taken by one of our RISE Champions, Dan Rubino.
RISE has always been about giving our membership the tools they need to elevate and coordinate their union organizing efforts. And with our second set of RISE Champions, you can expect to see and hear many more member-driven successes in the future.