Building Community Partnerships

Building community partnerships will establish a positive reputation for the union and show your local has a stake in the neighborhoods where we work and live. These partnerships will also strengthen our position at the bargaining table by:

  • showing we are not alone as our partners sign petitions or place support sign in their place of business, office or home
  • increasing turnout from community members to actions like rallies, town hall meetings and press conferences
  • increasing pressure on your employer with letters of support and resolutions from other local groups/organizations
  • getting additional information and assistance on environmental and health issues

Additionally, if a work stoppage were to occur, community, labor and religious organizations can help raise funds, provide food and join the picket line.

Before You Begin

We can build partnerships through personal relationships, service projects, community events and solidarity activities. Use the Community Connections Survey to identify organizations or groups local union members are already involved with such as places of worship, service organizations, civil rights groups, neighborhood associations, senior citizen groups and more. 

Check with staff reps, other locals in your area and the area Labor Council to learn about existing projects and partners near you.

Examples of community service projects:

  • Collect school supplies or holiday gifts for children in need like USW District 6's Jefferson Award Winner Darren Green
  • Collect personal care items for a homeless or women’s shelter
  • Host a fundraiser for a disease-prevention or research organization like The American Heart Association or the National MS Society
  • Participate in or host a community cleanup project like local 10-00086 did at a local park or community building such as a senior center, YMCA, or kids’ home
  • Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity
  • Collect food for the local food pantry
  • Volunteer at your local humane society

Examples of community events:

  • Parades
  • Seasonal festivals
  • 5k run/walk
  • Fairs
  • Holiday events (4th of July, Easter, Christmas, etc.)


Once you've surveyed your local union members and decided how your local will make an impact in your community, here's what to do next:

Build relationships 

If your local is collecting food for a shelter, don’t just drop donations at their door. Get to know the director and ask how the local can do more. Talk to him/her about the union and what's happening with bargaining. Then go serve a meal and spend time with the residents. Good relationships are based on solidarity and supporting each other in meaningful ways.

Make a plan 

Outline every step of the project from pre-event prep-work to post-event cleanup. If the local is hosting a coat-drive and you end up with 500 winter jackets at the union hall, you should already know where they’ll be donated and you should have already spoken with the recipient/s so they are prepared for the donation. If you're participating in a parade, festival or 5K run/walk, make sure you know who the organizer is, if there is a registration fee and deadline, if you can wear USW gear or carry posters and banners, and if there's more ways the local can be involved by creating a float or organizing an activity for all the attendees.

Establish a budget and put together a supplies list, whether it’s paper for printing flyers, markers to write “from” notes, or a truck to deliver mulch to community grounds.

Don't forget to assign tasks and responsibilities to other members of the local so everyone has something helpful to do and knows what's expected of them.

Explore additional resources

Ensure your reaching out to each and every one of your members so they have the opportunity to get involved.

Still need help? Other community organizations and groups may be able to lend a hand to make your project a success. For instance, Corey Ayer’s invited local police men to talk with families about bike safety as part of his Next Generation Bike Safety day project. If your collecting donations, ask local schools and small businesses if the local can place drop-boxes at enterences. Get creative!

Keep records

Keep a thorough log of who your project helped and how much was donated so you can nominate yourself/your local union for a USW Jefferson Award, a national program which gives recognition to people serving their community. In 2016, the USW's Priscilla Puente, an oil worker in Texas, was given the organizations top honor. Check out her story below.