Thursday, January 6, 2011

Is this your year to volunteer?

   Maybe you've heard the stories of Mid-South workers getting their wages stolen by employers. Or you want more workers, like those working at the University of Memphis, to be paid a living wage. Or perhaps you're troubled by workers being fired just for trying to establish a union. But what can you do about it? The problems are big, and you're just one person, right?

   There's not doubt these are big problems. But the good news is that there are simple things that you can do. Things that will have a big impact on whether workers are treated fairly, because you won't be doing these things alone. You know what makes big huge difference in whether WIN can achieve worker rights victories? Our volunteers.

   Volunteering with WIN is a rewarding experience, as veteran volunteer Earline Duncan can attest. Earline shares that she's "stayed active in WIN because there's nothing like seeing the faces of workers light up when they benefit from the work you and I do through WIN. After we won the City of Memphis living wage ordinance, I remember being hugged by a city worker at a senior center. She was so happy to be getting a living wage, because now she earned enough to meet her basic needs."

   Volunteers Mario Mercado and Cristina Condori also have great volunteer stories to share. Cristina says "it's very satisfying to teach workers about their rights. We still remember a worker from Guatemala who seemed so timid during one of the worker rights workshops Mario led. He wouldn't even speak that night. But then later, we saw him handing out WIN's worker rights flyers to workers waiting outside a temporary agency. Being part of experiences like those is why we're members of WIN."

   As you make your plans for 2011, why not become a WIN volunteer? Some volunteers help out on a weekly or monthly basis, while others volunteer just a few times a year. Some of our volunteers help out in the office preparing mailing. Some help with phone banks to make sure people show up for important rallies and actions. Other volunteers join us on the picket lines and at prayer vigils. Some Spanish-speaking volunteers train workers on their rights at our Thursday night worker rights meeting.

   If you're interested in volunteering, please fill out our online form to let me know what types of volunteer work you're most interested in. You can also let me know whether weekdays, weeknights, or weekends are best, and how often you'd like to be asked to volunteer.

   Then we'll contact you about opportunities that match your interest and availability. And the next victory WIN achieves for living wages or worker rights, you'll be able to say "I was part of that!"

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