Recruitment 101

If you’re reading this page, chances are we are preaching to the converted. You know why you’re in the AEU. The question is: how do you convey that to your colleagues?

Every single member can play a role in talking to their colleagues about why it’s important to be a member of the AEU. These one-on-one exchanges are far more powerful than any formal, organised recruitment drives.

There’s no tricky script. It’s just a conversation. It’s thinking about your own values and reasons for joining up, and sharing them.

What has AEU membership given you? New friendships? Top-quality PD? Perfectly timed advice on an industrial issue?

How about pride in being a member of one of Australia’s largest and most powerful unions, playing your part in ensuring your professional and industrial rights are recognised and upheld? When it comes to your career (and those of your colleagues), what could be more important than that?!

Here are a few pointers to help guide the conversation:

Ask them if they are a member

You wouldn’t believe how many people assume they are already a union member and that the union fees come directly out of their wage! Or that they had always meant to join, but just hadn’t got around to it.

Let them know that joining is simpler than ever. Here’s the sign-up page.

Make it all about them

What things are most important to your colleague about their own life and work? Maybe they will want to go on family leave soon, or they are hoping to move from contract to permanent work. Or perhaps you’ll find out they are worried about a student with special needs not getting the support she needs.

Most of the things they care about will directly relate to the work of the AEU and the support we offer our members – and their students.

Share how you’ve personally benefited

Talk about your experience of being a member. Share how being part of the AEU has made a real, tangible difference in your own life.

Give them the bigger picture

A lot of people are confused about what unions do – let alone what the AEU is all about. Without wanting to bang them over the head with a wet fish (suggesting a cup of tea might be a better option), you could give them a potted history of some of the AEU’s finest achievements.

For example, the public education union won the right for women to have equal pay with men, 12 weeks of paid maternity leave, and permanent status for all part-timers.

Or, if you’re in the schools sector, you could mention that teachers no longer have to pay for laptops out of their own salary, thanks to an AEU court case.

Show them how to join

It may just be that your colleague hasn’t heard much about the AEU, or simply hasn’t been asked to join. Show them the sign-up page.

Whether or not they sign up on the spot, you’ve planted the seed and, at the very least, made them think about the fact that their wages and conditions aren’t just magically gifted to them – they’ve been fought for by generations of AEU members.

Five responses to get your colleagues on board

Recruitment is everyone’s responsibility. The more members the AEU has, the more powerful we can be in winning improved pay and conditions for our members – and the profession as a whole.

It’s easier than you think to have a conversation with your colleagues about the benefits of AEU membership. Especially with a little help from us!

Below are five of the most common reasons non-members give for not joining – and some possible responses. Download our printable .pdf if it helps!

1. “I don’t feel exploited or underpaid. I’m quite happy in my job.”

“That’s great! But don’t forget the AEU played a big part in achieving your current level of job satisfaction.”

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“Unions are all about strength in numbers. The more members we have, the more the AEU can do for us – especially when it comes to advocating for better pay and conditions.”

“Did you know the AEU isn’t just about industrial representation? They also offer heaps of professional support, like one-on-one advice and excellent training.”

“Almost everybody in their working life will have an industrial issue at some point.  Your union protects and supports you throughout your whole career.”

“The AEU isn’t just about advocating for you; they are also campaigning for public education and our students.”

2. “I can’t afford it – the fees are too high!”

“Union fees are 100% tax deductable, so in fact it is far cheaper to be a union member than the fee suggests.”
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“AEU membership rates are set according to your income and time fraction, to make it as fair and accessible as possible. That means that if you’re a graduate, or if you’re part-time or casual, your union fees will be lower than somebody working full-time.”

“Your membership fees contribute to better wages and working conditions. How could we achieve this if the AEU wasn’t negotiating on our behalf?”

“Our students’ learning conditions are our working conditions! The AEU is constantly campaigning for improvements to public education, not just through collective bargaining for our next agreement.”

3. “How do I know my union fees are being used appropriately?”

“The AEU is a transparent and democratic organisation, with strict controls on financial expenditure and reporting.” 
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“The AEU leadership team, together with branch officers, Executive, Branch Council and Sector Councils, are democratically elected every three years. The Victorian Branch Conference is held annually and all financial members are eligible to seek election to attend as a delegate.”

“AEU elections are approved by Fair Work Australia and conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission. AEU finances are overseen by three different bodies: the Finance Committee, the Executive, and the wider Branch Council. Under AEU Victoria rules, all expenditure must be approved by the Branch Secretary who is ultimately responsible for the financial viability of the organisation.”

“The AEU is independently audited every year. It also reports to Fair Work Australia on all activities throughout the year, and has never been implicated in, or accused of, corruption or of any kind of fraudulent activity.”

4. “I get along well with the principal/institute manager and I don’t want to rock the boat.”

“Being in a union isn’t about fighting with ‘the boss’. The AEU empowers and supports its members to contribute to their workplaces in professional, informed and constructive ways. We help make you an even greater asset at work!”
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“The employer/union relationship is about working constructively to do what’s best for the people they employ and represent. Sometimes that involves an adversarial process, but the AEU has a great track record of maintaining a positive relationship with employers while advancing the interests of its members.”

“Being in a union is about knowing your rights and campaigning for better resources for educators and students, so we can deliver the best quality education possible.”

“The AEU represents all educators in the public system, including principals. Being an AEU member doesn’t automatically put you at odds with your principal, who is equally likely to be an AEU member themselves. If your principal is not an AEU member, this is more reason for you and your colleagues to be pro-active in knowing your rights at work.”

5. “I don’t want to be in the position of letting down my students if I’m called to go on strike!”

“Going on strike is only ever a last resort, and not something the AEU takes lightly!” 
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“There are strict industrial laws about when members can and can’t take that kind of action, and it’d only happen in the final stages of an EBA, after months of unsuccessful negotiations. Ultimately, the decision to go on stop work action is about weighing up the medium- to long-term conditions that could be achieved for students and staff against the short-term inconvenience of a strike.”

“The AEU brings about real, positive change in the lives of our students. We are the key voice, and in some cases the only voice, advocating for public education and better resources for students. Our activism in the lead-up to the last state election meant that public education became the number one election issue, and we now have the only state government in Australia that has proudly called itself ‘The Education State’. That’s a direct result of the efforts by the AEU and its members.”

“Without our significant campaigning, no Gonski funding would have been delivered to schools, and there would be no TAFE sector left to speak of! We would not have the precious 15 hours of funded kindergarten for our children, and no monitoring of the NDIS roll-out. These are just a few of the many ways that AEU has improved the lives of students and staff in public education.”

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