On the record:
Holding politicians accountable
Lobbying is not an event; it is ongoing process. The follow-up to a lobby meeting is just as important as the preparation and the meeting itself. In fact, how and where the meeting is reported can influence the decision-maker and the likelihood of building a broader base of support for the issues. Even in cases where the request for a meeting was turned down, a report of the lobbying effort is important.
There is a wide range of ways that teacher lobbyists can hold MLAs and other politicians to account for their positions. Some considerations in selecting the method are previous experience with the person, the needs of the members, an assessment of community reaction, and the availability of local media attention.
Ways to hold MLAs or other politicians accountable in their communities include:
- Sending the politician a letter as soon as possible, thanking him/her for the meeting, summarizing the main points made and detailing any promises, positions or key statements expressed by the politician or their staff during the meeting.
- Publishing the letter and/or a report of the meeting in communications to members.
- Copying others on the letter such as the local media, education partners, community groups, and unions with similar concerns, municipal officials, etc.
- Posting a running record of lobby efforts on your web site or by email to members and community contacts. Consider using a standard format such as date, delegation, issue, response, and follow-up.
- Organizing a letter, fax or e-mail blitz of the MLA’s office to express support for your delegation’s position.
- Developing a print ad based on your positions and those expressed by the MLA. Include a call on the MLA to stand up for his/her constituents, and the MLA’s contact information.
- Printing a handbill to post in the community, on bulletin boards, in supportive businesses or agencies, etc. Summarize the issue, state the MLAs response, and call on the MLA to stand up for his/her constituents.
- Displaying a running record of lobby efforts or the MLAs voting record on key issues, on a large poster in your office window. Seek out supporters in the community who who will also display information in their windows.
- Using a strategically located billboard, sign or banner to post a message about your MLA’s positions and/or voting record, or calling on the MLA to change their stance.