Report back from Jill Eastland from the Special Members Meeting 18 November 2017, London
A larger membership is obviously of key importance to help grow our union and to build unity and solidarity amongst artists to improve our pay and working conditions. With additional membership funds we will be better able to support individual members and mount effective political campaigns. I also have a hope that additional funds will have a snowballing effect on recruitment, allowing us to facilitate monthly payments and concessionary rates for artists many of whom are in receipt of benefits because of our abysmally low or non-existent wages and appalling working conditions for example unsafe studios and so called ‘opportunities’ that charge people to work as artists. It is a key element of current AUE strategy to increase our membership and at the AGM earlier this year Pam Foley called for each member to recruit two new members, to push this drive forwards. In her treasurers report she stated,
“We have a drive increase AUE Membership three-fold by 2019, that is, to have 1000 members by the 2019 AGM. Not only is it important to increase our membership in order to increase our influence. The added funds from subscription fees will allow us to employ the extra help we need in order to continue to grow and thrive.”
I was very keen to help AUE with recruitment and to help build the union, so I was very pleased when a proposal to set up a working group for the purpose of recruiting more members was greeted with unanimous support at the recent Special Meeting. There was no shortage of volunteers to assist with this and we agreed that our first step would be to set up social media groups to discuss the issue of recruitment, plan and develop strategies for recruitment and support each other in our efforts. We would be grateful for additional volunteers to become a part of our recruitment drive, which needs to be something that every member is involved in. The single biggest reason given for not joining a union is, “No one asked me” and word of mouth is still cited by unions as the most successful recruitment strategy. Any suggestions, ideas and experience would be very welcome.
A working group to set up equality forums was also agreed at the Special Meeting and bearing in mind the unfair discrimination faced by Women, Black people, LGBT and disabled artists etc. I think it is important that we work together to recruit and support artists from a wide range of backgrounds.
Jill Eastland, Cambridge