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Big Win for Texting Labor Leader

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, July 1 2010

A victory text from newly-elected AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Lee Saunders

So, an update. We've been tracking the campaign of Lee Saunders in his bid to take the potentially very power Secretary-Treasurer spot in the major labor union AFSCME, and in particular his seemingly innovative use of text messaging to organize and rally a winning share of the 4,000 or so delegates on the ground in Boston this week for the union's annual convention.

Well, he won. In what seems to have been an exceptionally tight vote this afternoon, and one that seems to have surprised some, the chief of staff to AFSCME President Jerry McEntee emerged victorious over Civil Service Employees Association President Danny Donohue. Numbers coming out of Boston put it at 50.1% to 49.8% win of the total votes labor delegates controlled on behalf of their local unions. (The total universe of votes was more than 1.3 million, but AFSCME delegates in Boston cast them on behalf of the members who elected them as representatives of their locals. And a third candidate seems to have gotten a sprinkling of votes. Consider these numbers rough.)

The interesting bit here is, I think, how Saunders might serve as a case study of how you use mobile to successfully organize in closed, real-time situations with a small universe of important points of contact.

Saunders caps his victory with a text out to his list: "I'm humbled by your support. Now let's unite for the fight! From the bottom of my heart, thank you."