My friend Jeff was on his computer and cellphone when he called me to the location he was sitting. He said he was listening in on a Local 2627 meeting. Per his suggestion, they were using an online videoconferencing service with a call-in number. They were sharing documents and interacting real-time without having to get to the meeting.
I was intrigued. New and innovative. And about time.
Now, I’m not too surprised, considering DC37 Local 2627 is the local supporting all New York City Electronic Data Processing Personnel. These include a variety of Information Technologists including computer programmers, desktop support personnel, and network administrators, among others. If anyone could use technology to deliver better information, it’s this crew…
I was thoroughly impressed. A much better way to reach members – members, like Jeff, who got stuck working late and it was too late to make the meeting at 125 Barclay. Others, too, for whatever reason couldn’t make it, also took advantage of the web/call-in.
I advised him that I am in a different local; Civil Service Technical Guild, local 375 . Hmm, technical guild. Full of Electrical Engineers, Senior Computer Equipment Design Specialists, Radio & TV Operators, and dozens of other technically savvy people. How come my local hasn’t thought of that?
I think it’s time that the DC37 locals figure out a way to reach out to the membership via technology. This way the member that is working the evening shift can listen in during mealtime at 5 or 6 pm. Other members that may have to go home for childcare or other personal reasons can log in via their home computer or call in to the conference call and listen in.
For many of us in the technical fields, we’re already familiar with these technologies from doing our job. Conference bridges, sharing of documents either by e-mail or by videoconferencing, are part of the day’s work.
It doesn’t have to be expensive. Some things, like conference calls, can be set up for free. I’ve used them myself in a pinch – Free Conference Call.com is one service . Looks like you can do free videoconferencing now too. No Cost Conference is another one as is Uber Conference. There may be long distance charges if your phone plan doesn’t cover it. But for the general nationwide calling plans, you’re golden.
You may wonder how this can be free – they’re based on a Federal Communications Commission ruling on how smaller rural phone carriers get paid. Basically these small companies use this rule by hosting this service and the larger companies who connect to them must pay the small carrier for the service. More can be found here.
I suggest that to keep the price low or zero, share documents via e-mail or link, and use a free conference call service.
Now, some of the larger locals may have difficulty with call-ins. A large number of people calling in might be a bit unwieldy. I don’t recommend this as a replacement to seeing your leadership and work counterparts in person. There is no replacement for real face-to-face meetings and networking in person. But for all the night shifts I’ve worked where I couldn’t get to an old 1087 meeting, it would have been nice to listen in on the topics and participate in the conversations.
At least you can see the DC37 Public Employee Press online. Good progress!
Picture of Man on Phone with old Computer courtesy of Gratisography.com. Buy the man a coffee!