After a period of declining membership, unions seem to be staging a comeback.
Here’s how your labor union can prepare for and take advantage of this opportunity for growth.
The union membership rate declined by 0.5 percent in 2021 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, recent movement in U.S. organized labor suggests an environment that’s ripe for union growth:
- The U.S.’s largest federation of labor unions, AFL-CIO, is leading a coalition that’s demanding Fifa address concerns about human and labor rights at the 2026 World Cup in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico
- U.S. unions are connecting with unions in Ukraine to show their support in the area.
- U.S. President Joe Biden has stated that he intends to be “the most pro-union President leading the most pro-union administration in American history”.
So, here’s the question: What can your labor union do to prepare for and take advantage of this opportunity for growth?
One of the most powerful things you can do to strengthen and grow your union is to have the right membership management software in place. Doing so can help you attract and engage the next generation of members and get more done for your membership.
Here are three practical ways that modern membership management software can help you strengthen and grow your union:
1. Offer a modern online member experience.
Attracting the next generation of union members is critically important to growing your organization and keeping it strong for years to come. Members and prospective members (especially those of younger generations) expect to be able to easily interact with organizations online.
To provide them with a modern experience, make sure your membership management software allows members to engage with your organization from their mobile devices. Your software should also allow you to set up a member-facing portal so that your members can do things like manage payments, orders, and preferences; participate in discussion forums; and answer polls and surveys online.
TIP: Aptify membership management software for labor unions makes it easy for you to allow members to engage with your organization from their mobile devices and through a member-facing portal.
2. Help your union staff work more efficiently.
Maintaining smooth operations helps you get more done for your membership – ultimately helping you to attract and retain members. The right membership management software can keep your union running efficiently and effectively.
Here are some specific ways that your software should help you optimize your staff’s work:
- Mobile access – Just as your members expect mobile access, so does your staff. It’s a must-do these days, allowing your staff to find and organize members from the office or the field. It gives your team quick access to the information and analytics they need, when they need it.
- Centralized data – Using multiple, disparate systems to store data and manage processes can waste time because your staff must track down and compile information from multiple systems just to manage daily processes.
Make sure your software allows you to capture and track member and financial information in a single database so that you always have access to a complete and accurate view of vital data. Plus, make sure you have powerful search functionality so that your team can search for member information across the entire database.
The result: Your entire organization will be able to work more efficiently by using one access point for all of your member data.
- Streamlined processes – Look for software that includes functionality for your entire organization. So, not only is your member data in one place, but your organization also has a single system to manage tasks – from billing and dues processing to grievance management – allowing your staff to spend more time providing valuable member support.
In addition to the efficiency of using one system to manage operations, make sure your software includes a drag-and-drop process flow editor that allows you to easily automate processes. This will also help you free up staff time for higher value work.
- Efficient reporting – Make sure your software allows you to view, report on, and interact with data in real time. Look for built-in reports as well as dashboards that allow you to drill down into each piece of data directly from the dashboard for more details.
With this type of reporting, you can quickly view key organizational metrics each day instead of spending time pulling together information from multiple systems. These reports give you the business insights you need at your fingertips to help you make faster, more informed decisions that drive your organization forward.
- Easy-to-use system – Make sure that you don’t have to be an IT pro (or ask your IT team for help) to manage tasks and access the data you need. Look for software that allows even non-technical staff to run reports, create dashboards, and manage member data.
TIP: Aptify includes multiple tools to help unions streamline their processes. For example, with the help of Aptify, The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) automated processes to synchronize employment records, reconcile monthly dues bills, and provide accurate and timely bills. Working with Aptify, ALPA also developed a customized solution to streamline the process around union-sponsored insurance products.
3. Make smarter use of your union’s member data.
Collecting, tracking, managing, and measuring member data is crucial for growing your union. It can help you add member value and drive greater member engagement.
Be sure that your software offers a solid customer relationship management (CRM) system – on the back end of your software so that your staff can use the information being collected on your website and by activists in the field. The membership database should be flexible and allow for easy configuration of fields, records, and online forms.
Also, look for software that allows you to measure and score member engagement. This functionality will allow you to define key performance indicators (KPIs) and weight member engagement based on those KPIs. Then, you can automatically assign engagement scores to each member, giving you insights such as:
- Which members are most engaged and least engaged
- Engagement trends; for example, if you are losing or gaining engagement among a specific member demographic
- Who might be emerging thought-leaders and key activists in your union
These types of insights can help you identify opportunities, spot potential challenges, and adapt to changing member preferences and needs.
Find the right membership software for your union.
With the right technology, you can help to ensure your union is ready to grow and thrive. Take the next steps to find the right membership management software for your union: Download the request for proposal (RFP) toolkit for unions, which includes an RFP template and sample requirements matrix.