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Local 401 masters new employee orientation

When it comes to new employee orientation (NEO) programs at state agencies, the structure and consistency varies across the state. But one agency that seems to have NEO running like a well-oiled machine is the Department of Revenue, thanks in part to leadership at MAPE Local 401.

"I was instantly compelled to sign up for MAPE," said new hire Andrew Zobel after his Revenue NEO.

Under the direction of a new leadership team in 2016, Local 401 created a membership committee, currently spearheaded by the local’s membership secretary, Mark Diehl.


“Half the recruiters we have today are new through the outreach we’ve done in that committee,” Diehl said at a recent Revenue NEO.

At right: MAPE member recruiters talk with new hires at Revenue NEO.

Diehl says the new leadership team brought new energy to recruiting in their local, which came in handy last week when the agency hosted one of its big biannual new employee orientations. On Wednesday more than 40 new hires gathered in a Revenue conference room to learn more about the agency, state employment and the union that represents them.

MAPE’s contract states that “a representative of the Association shall be provided a reasonable amount of time at a group orientation program to summarize the role of the Association, distribute the contract and provide a list of Association Stewards to new employees.”

At Revenue, once human resources representatives conclude their portion of the NEO, MAPE leaders divide new hires into small groups where a recruiter meets with a handful of new employees and talks about the value of joining MAPE. In those small groups recruiters can answer questions, share their own inspirations for being involved in MAPE and talk about the power the comes from maintaining a strong union.

“I think this format works so well because we share personal stories with the new hires and they can relate to that,” Diehl said.

Zobel agreed.

"The small groups, each with their own MAPE representatives, allowed for a much more conversational information session," Zobel said. "I found myself and the other members of my group had ample opportunities to learn more about the benefits involved in becoming a member.

"Furthermore, the MAPE representatives were fantastic. They all were very knowledgeable and clearly committed to the cause that MAPE stands for. I felt comfortable signing up for a group that is comprised of such competent and passionate leadership."

For some, the decision to join the union was made before they even stepped foot in the room.

“I talked to my husband before I started and he said, ‘Join the union,’” new member Kimberly Callahan said. “He likes unions.”

For others, they were inspired to join after hearing from recruiters about the strength that comes from membership.

“When we negotiate with (Minnesota Management and Budget) they do look at membership numbers versus fee payers. If you want better working conditions, better pay, join us,” Lee Sullivan, MAPE board member, said to her small group. “We want to start out strong and show we care about our membership percentage.”

At January’s big NEO at Revenue, 72 percent of new hires in the room joined as members. On Wednesday, preliminary estimates show a similar rate of success.