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Instead, SHRM is creating an
Advocacy Team (A-Team) throughout the United States to support the Society’s public policy agenda. It will be rolled out over five years. The goal is to establish a network of SHRM members—known as district captains—who will volunteer as key contacts in
each of the 435 House of Representatives districts. The district captains will work under the direction of SHRM state legislative directors. District captains will share the HR perspective with their legislators when various bills in the House and Senate have the potential to impact the workplace in their congressional district.
The aim is to establish a working relationship with legislators so those Senate and House members have a trusted source in the HR community, according to David Lusk, SHRM’s senior associate, member advocacy, who is spearheading this effort. In the past, SHRM has addressed legislative issues such as E-Verify, the Family and Medical Leave Act, health care reform, mental health parity rules and workplace safety issues on Capitol Hill.
District captains must reside in the congressional district they represent and must be a SHRM member in good standing. They will coordinate bi-annual visits to district legislative offices in their state to discuss workplace issues that members of Congress or the state legislature is considering.
“What we’re really looking for is building a relationship with that legislative office” so legislators coming across an issue will “want to see what SHRM thinks” before taking a position on workplace-related legislation, said Bob Carragher, manager, government relations, for SHRM.
“We’re just trying to push SHRM issues, rather than align with any one [political] party,” noted Lusk. District captains will “present a balanced view of how a particular workplace issue is going to play out in that congressional district,” he added.
The time commitment is expected to average no more than five hours per month. It will involve checking in with SHRM’s state director periodically and staying updated on public policy proposals impacting the workplace, according to Carragher. Most of a district captain’s time will be spent reaching out to other HR advocates and A-Team members identified in the district and encouraging their participation in outreach efforts with their representatives, Carragher said.
Recruitment and training sessions are scheduled during 2010 for the following states:
In addition, SHRM has identified Nebraska (three districts), Rhode Island (two districts) and Wisconsin (eight districts) as states where it will be recruiting A-Team members in 2010, but no dates had been set for recruiting/training sessions.
SHRM members interested in becoming involved but who cannot attend the recruitment/training sessions will have another opportunity through online sessions; those dates will be announced later.
The initial list of states identified for recruitment reflects a variety in size, location among the five SHRM U.S. regions and the potential for SHRM to impact legislation given their district’s representation in Congress, Carragher said.
States where A-Team members will be recruited in 2011 are expected to be announced during the November SHRM Leadership Conference in November 2010.
Carragher said there could be as many as 80 new members in the House after the 2010 midterm elections, making the timing of the A-Team initiative fortuitous.
Observed Lusk, “When you have a lot of turnover, that’s why it’s imperative we have this advocacy team in place. Suddenly we’ll have a lot of freshman [congressmen]” who might be voting on policy that could have “unintended consequences” for the workplace. Changes in the Senate and House also could mean changes in who chairs important committees, he said.
Persons interested in joining the A-Team can sign up at
http://capwiz.shrm.org/shrm/mlm/signup, where they can indicate the following levels of involvement:
Participation can be a resume-builder, according to Lusk.
“It has the potential … of grooming new leaders, even within the chapter level, who have developed their presence through this,” he said, adding that it could raise a SHRM member’s profile in his or her own organization by showcasing their leadership skills.
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