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When VP Capelli asked UBC Corporate Relations Representative Ed Durkin to spearhead the Eastern District Grassroots Activism Program Committee, he jumped at the opportunity. The UBC invests monies in the market as a way to strategically offset income when the construction markets are down. As such, the UBC is a shareholder in several Fortune 500 companies.

For fifteen years, Durkin has been attending shareholder meetings all over the country as both a UBC member and a concerned shareholder. His message is clear; the UBC is ready to be a partner in each of their investment’s success. However, we are ready to voice concerns and exercise shareholder rights to protect our membership and their opportunities.

To get this committee up and running, VP Capelli asked ESTs to select 12 to 14 representatives from each Council to receive training on how to speak at shareholder meetings and typical meeting protocol. Our staff was already ahead of the curve as many shareholders meeting follow Robert's Rules, the same rules we use to conduct local union meetings. Shareholder meeting season extends from April through September, and the schedule can be brutal. So, the more trained staff we have on hand, the better. Durkin has developed a script for each attendee so that they are prepared and respectful.

After a meeting staff enter information into a shared database. So, if a staff person in Vermont has a question about a company headquartered in Virginia, he or she can log in an get the information they need. Once meeting season is over, members of the committee convene to debrief and set the next wave of strategy.

Over time Durkin has built a network of contacts that he can reach out to any time there is a conflict. When a Council Representative is hitting a wall in trying to establish a relationship with an end user, Durkin can often identify the right point of contact. Sometimes the difference between failure and success is just knowing the right person to talk to.

This program has been a unique organizing tool for many areas. Working together as a unified District will make it even more powerful. As the head of this committee, Durkin is educating the next generation shareholders who will be ready to hold the companies where the UBC has invested accountable.

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