The importance of advocacy
Together we can make a difference
We often get asked if we think that our presence in D.C. makes a difference. My answer to that is our presence in D.C. is only as strong as our industry’s ability to work at a grassroots level to educate their members of Congress on our issues, which, in turn, makes our presence in D.C. very valuable.
We are just coming off the August recess, and we are hopeful our grassroots efforts in the districts during the break will have an impact on our issues as we return to business in D.C. So many will ask what they can do, or may feel it is a little intimidating to visit their Congressman or Senator. The one thing we remind everyone is that these folks (Congressmen and Senators) are no different than anyone else in the country.
They are there to represent you and their districts, and need to hear from you to do their jobs effectively. We have found many Congressmen and Senators to have ties to the construction industry, many of them having families in the business or actually owning companies before their elected positions.
These elected officials need people they can rely on in their home districts and states. We often find that members of the Mason Contractors Association of America who have reached out to their members of Congress build almost consulting-like positions with their members. The members are in need of opinions and interpretations of how their actions, or lack thereof, impact their people back home. Often, this will turn into a phone call from the Representative asking for feedback on an issue. Nurturing and building those relationships becomes invaluable in our efforts.
It does not take a long time to establish this relationship with your Congressional delegation. It does take consistent meetings and visits to their offices to educate them. The one thing we have learned in our advocacy efforts is that, if we are not doing it, someone else will. Even if we are doing it, likely they have an opposing side on nearly every issue, tugging at them to see their side and trying to gain their support.
It does take a little time and a little effort, but it can pay back big in the end, when we develop those relationships. Going to D.C. is not a requirement to be effective. However, if you typically see your Congressman back home, and they see you making the effort to go to D.C. to discuss an issue, they will understand the importance of the visit.
You can make a difference! We are here to help. If you want a briefing on issues or need resources to make a visit, please call our office. We can help you with it and make you feel more at ease. Remember, they are people no different than you and me, and treating them as such will go a long way.
About the Author
Jeff Buczkiewicz is the President and CEO of the Mason Contractors Association of America. Jeff has worked in the masonry industry for several years as the Executive Vice President of the Building Stone Institute and the Director of Marketing and Membership for the Mason Contractors Association of America. Jeff has also served as Secretary on the Board of the Natural Stone Council and is a former Board Member of the StonExpo Federation.