Rich Helgren has been a Steelworker for 29 years, but only took on the job of Rapid Response Coordinator at his local recently. As he was getting started, the Administration announced a proposal to roll back chemical safety protections that our union had fought for. We needed to quickly weigh in and send a strong message of opposition.
Opinions on the plan were being accepted by the Environmental Protection Agency during a short window of time. We wanted our USW comments to stand out by adding thousands of petition signatures along with it. That’s where Rapid Response kicked in.
While Rich hadn’t gotten a chance to recruit help when the ActionCall came out, he also didn’t have time to waste.
Our goal in Rapid Response is always to reach members one on one. With this in mind, Rich put together a table in a high traffic area where members passed through as they started their shifts. He made his own Rapid Response signs to get attention, talked to members about the issue, and encouraged them to sign.
The efforts paid off. He was able to collect 170 signatures, representing a significant part of the membership of this iron ore mining local in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Rich notes, “We need to make sure our members are educated on what legislation and government decisions can do to them.”
Congratulations, Rich, on a successful first action. Thank you to Local 4950, and all other Steelworkers locals who support the program and regularly step up to help. Your efforts to connect with members in the workplace and speak out on important issues make real a difference!