5 ways you can be an advocate for our industry
By: David Ward
December 14, 2018

Just like you, what the 1.3 million men and women of the equipment manufacturing industry care about most is having a job so that they can take care of themselves and their families.
One of the best ways we can do that is by letting our elected officials know how public policies impacts us. That means telling our stories and raising our voices so that they understand how they vote matters. And while elected officials try to make an effort to listen to everyone, that doesn’t always happen. That’s why it’s important that as many of us as possible find some way we can be an advocate. 
However, those who want to be advocates aren’t always sure how to do that – often not knowing where to start.
To help make sure you know how you can be ad advocate – and all the millions of others who rely on our industry growing – here are five ways you can make sure policymakers pay attention:
1)      Learn about our issues – and tell a colleague of friend: The best way to be an advocate is to understand why policies matter to your job and your industry. Stay informed by reading or watching the news, visit your elected official’s website, or even visit our industry’s online advocacy resources by visiting www.imakeamerica.org/issues. Staying informed about the major issues and educating your co-workers, family, and friends, is step one to being a strong advocate for policies that impact your job and our industry.
2)      Send a letter or make a phone call: Throughout the year there are many public policy issues that confront our elected officials. Whether it has to do with immigration, healthcare, or trade policy, they have to juggle dozens of issues that their constituents care about. And there are often many competing opinions on the best way they should think about those issues. One way to help make sure they care about what our industry says is by sending them a letter or calling their office to tell them why a certain policy matters to you and how they should vote. And by more of us sending letters, or making those calls, the more likely they’ll vote for the policy issues that matter to our industry.
3)      Tell your story – and use social media regularly: It’s important to remember our elected officials are human, just like us. While we often want to make sure about the research that shows how policies impact us, what will persuade them and get their attention their most is your unique story. It’s the best way to illustrate to them why their decision to vote on an issue really matters. If they hear that an important component of a piece of legislation led to you getting hired or losing your job, or led to your family’s farm making less money than it did the year before, then they’ll more likely remember that than anything else you tell them. One simple way to quickly and simply doing that is by sharing your story on social media. Most elected officials these day use social media accounts to stay closely connected with their constituents back home. Here is another way to help you do that. I Make America recently launched a new “Stories” feature to share the perspectives of our supporters. To learn how you can tell your story you can contact us at stories@aem.org.
4)      Ask for an in-person meeting: While it may take more time out of your day, having a face-to-face meeting with policymakers and their staff is a strong way to deliver your message. Every elected official has an office in their home state or district – and often there’s more than one option. Meeting with them in person to explain how a policy impacts your job, your business, or your community is a great way to ensure a strong connection and make sure they hear what you have to say. Another way to do that is by asking your manager at work if they are interested in hosting an elected official at your facility. It’s another great way they can see first-hand why your job matters – and the dozens or hundreds of others you work with.
5)      Vote: Voting is what matters most to elected officials. If they know that you’ll take time out of your day to decide whether they stay in their job or will have to find a new one, then they will pay attention to you. While this may seem like a simple way to take action for many, most voting-eligible Americans don’t take the time to vote. For example, in 2018 while midterm voter turnout hit a 50-year high that still only meant 47 percent of voter-eligible population voted. Even once policymakers are in office, the thing they care about the most is the next election. That’s why after all the meetings, calls, letters, or Tweets you send, the thing that matters most is voting.
There are many ways to be an advocate. What matters most is that you understand why policies matter and that you have options to let elected officials know why they should care. If you’re interested in finding out more about how to be an advocate ask your manager or contact us by visiting: www.imakeamerica.com/contact-us/