Lobbying is the process of trying to influence decision-makers so that they do what we want them to do. It is as old as politics itself, and a legitimate part of how our democracy works.
Elected officials, as well as their staff and advisors, often have a limited understanding of the issues, the range of policy options at their disposal, and the impact on working people, our families, and our communities
This makes it even more important for our lobby efforts to be effective. Decision-makers must not only be given the opportunity to understand our views, they must come to see union activists as both advocates who represent the best interests of workers, as well as individual citizens, taxpayers, consumers—and voters. They need to hear alternative views and policy options that counterbalance what they hear from corporate lobbyists and business-friendly media.
You don’t need to be a policy expert or a professional lobbyist to have influence with politicians and their advisors. You just need to show that you are connected to the people and the communities the politicians need to represent. Just tell them the stories you already know. Explain how the issue at hand impacts your community and the people you work with. That’s where union activists qualify as experts. And that’s when politicians will listen.
It is critical for unions and the labour movement to get more workers and union members to meet with and talk to decision-makers about the issues that affect us all.