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—Excerpted from The Union Steward’s Complete Guide (2nd Edition)

If you have a large enough group of new co-workers to justify holding an orientation meeting, whether it’s at the workplace, the union hall or elsewhere, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Try to get some back-and-forth discussion going.
  • Allow time for questions.
  • Ask questions of the new workers.
  • Try to break up the meeting so it’s not just you talking to them the whole time.
    If any of this feels uncomfortable, though, don’t force it. Most of them may not know enough yet to have questions. In fact, you may want to think about holding some kind of follow-up orientation after people have been on the job six months or so, when they’ve had some experience.

Think about who should do the orientation. In a more diverse workforce, you want people who are representing the union to mirror that workforce. Try to get a real cross-section of members involved in the orientation, including women, people of different races and younger members, so new members from those groups feel it’s their organization too. Talk about what’s interesting to the new workers. Don’t try to go over every benefit in the contract, they won’t remember the details anyway.