Instructions for Card-Signers

How to get the card signing process started in your office.

Click here to sign a card right now!

Table of Contents


Signing Cards

The whole point of an organizing campaign is to sign cards. Cards are not just a request for a vote or a show of support, they are a membership card in the union. Every card is confidential and information on the card should be treated as such. The act of signing a membership card in a union is an act of consciousness and courage.

Here are some tips for recruiting new members to sign cards.

1. Make initial contact

The form of this is up to you, and depends on your relationship to the person. At first, you may want to focus on those people you think are likely to sign a card, at least in the initial stages of the campaign. If you are speaking to someone who might not know much about unions, you are probably better off simply having a discussion about their concerns related to work at UW, and present the union option within that conversation.

  • Reach out via social media, email, or through whatever format you usually talk.
  • Ask if they would like to discuss some developments related to the unionization effort at UW.

If the person does not answer, try again later, but be careful not to harass them. Do not contact someone more than 2-3 times if they don't show much interest or don't respond/follow up.

2. Have a conversation

Have a conversation (in whatever format/medium) about the drive. Remember that an organizing conversation is different from a chat because it has a purpose, involves trying to move a worker on a position, and always has an “ask” at the end.

  1. Preface the conversation with the fact that it is confidential and will not be spoken about publically on social media, UW email, etc.
  2. Introduce yourself if you don't know them very well / make small talk.
  3. Agitate on issues. Be transparent about your support for the campaign, and if you write things down, explain what you're writing and why.
  4. Provide a vision for the workplace (Results, not theory). Explain concrete reasons you support the campaign and how a union can help.
  5. Ask if they want to sign a card (this can feel awkward, but is important).
  6. Ask if they want to help by becoming an organizer/card-signer.

Things to remember

There are many strategies to get a signed card. Everyone has their own style, but there are some things that are common to every conversation:

Before the conversation

  • Meet them anywhere/using whichever method they feel comfortable and that is safe for everyone.
  • Go together - it is always best to organize in pairs (even digitally!).
  • Diversity in a team is essential; having more than one person eases discussion.
  • You can ask an experienced organizer to meet with people with you, to help you answer questions.

During the conversation

  • Record all relevant information (e.g. what they know about the campaign, who they know, level of support, main objections, key workplace issues, if they agree to sign or volunteer)
  • Do not be sneaky. If they ask, tell them what you are writing down.
  • Listen, do not lecture. Stick to their interests, not ideology.
  • Keep eye contact, be polite. Allow the conversation to flow naturally.
  • Ask questions to keep the conversation going.

End of the conversation

  • Always strive to leave with a signed card - generally we have only one chance.
  • If the answer is “no” or “maybe” - always ask why. Do not devalue their objections or waste time refuting details; always steer back to their issues.
  • If they don't give an answer, try again only once or twice.
  • In all cases, if the final answer is no, accept this gracefully and thank them for their time meeting with you.

Main issues

If you are struggling for ideas of what to talk about, here are some themes that are generally relevant that you can touch on in a conversation:

  • Fairness, accountability, process, rules.
  • Democracy in the workplace.
  • Health and Safety.
  • The union is support.
  • A Collective Agreement is a legally binding contract agreed to by both sides.

3. Card-signing message template

For someone who has agreed to sign a card (if they did not already fill out the form during your conversation). Send the following message (or a very similar one) via personal email or other format (not UW email).

Hello/Dear/Hi ____

Thank you for expressing your support of unionization at UW and agreeing to sign a card! Here are the instructions:

NOTE: All information is kept within a secure server, and completely private. UW will not know you have signed a card. Please don't post this direct link on social media, as it is best if potential signers understand what they are signing on to, either by viewing information on our website or discussing with an organizer or colleague. You should not use UW email for any communication regarding unionization, as it is not permitted under labour law to use “employer resources”, including digital services like email, for the purposes of a union drive.

  1. Go to this link and fill out your name and email: https://rukovoditel.cupe.ca/index.php?module=ext/public/form&id=4
  2. Be sure to add in your work position (TA, RA, etc.). If you are doing a TA/RA/(Grad) Sessional etc. contract, then select “employed.” If you are not currently working but expect to wor during the next year, you can still sign a card - simply select “no longer employed.” You might also wish to select “casual”, e.g. if you do casual work, like getting paid to help at special events, extra proctoring, etc., but are not employed on a contract as a TA/RA/Grad Sessional.
  3. Once you fill this out, you will get an email from CUPE clerical (usually the same day, sometimes a little longer) with a link to an E-Card to fill in. It will open in your browser and utilize an Adobe e-signing process. All you have to do is fill it in using one of the signing options, then click “send back.”
  4. Please let me know how the process goes, and if there are any hitches.

Thanks, talk to you soon!

4. Follow-Up - Quick Message Template

For someone who agreed to sign, but either it doesn’t show in the database, or they are listed but the signature is not finalized.

Hi __, I hope you're well!

I was just wondering if you ended up signing a union card, or if you had any issues with that? On my end it doesn't show a signature, but I know sometimes there can delays or glitches. If you had any technical issues, we have a new FAQ (https://organizeuw.org/docs/faq/technical/) to help with this. If you did not sign a card, no pressure. I just wanted to follow up and see if you had any more questions :) or changed your mind, etc. If so, it's no problem, I would just note that down so I don't bother you again.

Thanks again for your time meeting with me.

All the best,

Need More Information or Support?

Much of the content from this post is a condensed version of this page, so if you'd like more tips about how to hold the conversation then you can check out the full site, which also has other resources on unionization specific to Canada. You can also check out this more detailed US resource.

Remember that you're not expected to be an expert - if you don't know the answer to a question, it is best not to guess, but to ask someone, and we will get you an answer quickly. The organizing committee holds regular training sessions to help card signers get used to discussing unionization with potential members, and we have a “card signers” chat group where you can talk to others people to get advice, ask questions, discuss strategies, etc.

An organizer would also be happy to join a meeting with you and a potential memeber to assist with answering their questions and explaining about unionization. This can help you gain confidence to hold these conversations on your own in future, as you learn more and get more practice. Feel free to reach out to us if you have a question, would like to join a training session, or want someone to accompany you in a card-signing conversation.

Finally, keep in mind that there are many strategies to having a card-signing chat. Everyone has their own style, and there is no “wrong” way, as long as you are approaching the person in a friendly and open-minded way, ready to listen to their concerns.

Committee to Organize uWaterloo
Committee to Organize uWaterloo
supported by CUPE

The Committee to Organize uWaterloo is a grassroots campaign to unionize the academic workers at the University of Waterloo. The campaign is supported by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Canada's largest union.

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