The Puget Sound Naval Shipyard hosted PSNS Family Day for its workforce on June 17. Western States organizer Melissa Morgan and Manny Valenzuela, Western States organizing director, staffed an information booth so Local 290 (Bremerton, Washington) members could enjoy time with their families.
Despite drizzle and cool weather, thousands of PSNS employees and their families attended. The shipyard only opens to families every seven years, so Family Day is always a big event. There were three entrances open, and the Boilermaker booth was stationed at the main entrance, in the Puget Sound Naval Memorial Plaza, closest to the ferry terminal.
The yard opened at 10 a.m. and families began to line up around 8 a.m. By 9 a.m. the line stretched several blocks. The Boilermaker's booth was next to the entrance and visible to people in the queue.
“As they opened the gates, we passed out snacks, small waters and coupons for the USS Tuner Joy, a naval ship destroyer and museum, that the Bremerton Metal Trades Council provided,” Morgan said.
Organizers had the perfect location to attract visitors, next to the Naval Museum button-making station, which offered free cotton candy and snow cones.
“As families were exiting, we invited them over to the booths,” Morgan said. “After that, we had several hundred visitors that asked questions, gathered stickers, pens and [other giveaways], and we signed them up for text and email alerts.”
Morgan said some of the employees they spoke with didn't know which union they were in or what the union does.
“We had many conversations about the role of the unions in the yard and the importance of participation in the union,” she said. “We only heard a couple of complaints about lack of representation.”
This was the first time any union had ever been present for Family Day. The positive reception and multitude of conversations led organizers to believe that not only was this great public relations, but manning a booth gave them the chance to connect to employees and potential members.
“We are considering setting up our booth in the same location on a regular schedule,” Morgan said.