Many people know all too well that the ongoing opioid public health crisis is having a direct impact on LIUNA members and their families as well as on LIUNA signatory contractors and affiliates. While some may not want to acknowledge that the crisis is real and in their communities, the fact is that on average, 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.
“Even when people do recognize the problem, there can be a lot to learn about the nature of addiction and substance use disorder, including its impact on jobs and job sites and available resources within LIUNA or the community,” says LIUNA General Secretary-Treasurer and LHSFNA Labor Co-Chairman Armand E. Sabitoni. “Several LIUNA Regions have held local seminars and workshops to bring labor and management together and see what can be done to address this crisis.”
Like many public health crises, there’s work to be done on a national level, yet the greatest impact on individual lives and families is being made locally. While no two communities look exactly alike – each community has its own strengths and local champions – there are some common resources and avenues that can help workers and employers address the opioid problem.
The Fund has collected information on what goes into planning one of these events in the hope that it will help other LIUNA entities plan their own. We recommend starting with the five Ws – Who, What, When, Where and Why.
Who – Who is your audience?
- Will the event be LIUNA only or will other trades be included?
- Consider including the following LIUNA entities:
- District Councils
- Local Union leadership
- LECET & Training Funds
- Health and welfare fund administrators and staff, including affiliated vendors
- Signatory contractors and affiliates
- Local community resources, especially nonprofits
What – What will the event include? What needs to be coordinated in advance?
- Hotel rooms
- Meeting space
- Meals and breaks
- Educational materials, copies of meeting handouts
- Lists of local or community treatment resources
When – When will the event take place?
- Consider the time of year and day(s) of the week that will encourage the most participation.
- Setting a date will give a fixed point to count back from to better plan the event. How much lead time will you need?
- How long should the seminar or event be? How much time do you believe people will reasonably be able to commit to attending?
Where – Where will the event take place?
- For several LIUNA entities, a hotel acted as a “one stop shop” and met all of their needs.
- Consider if a Local Union venue will work or if a centralized, neutral location (e.g., conference center) would be better.
When selecting a venue, consider these factors:
- Is the location convenient and easily accessible?
- Will the meeting space be comfortable, with enough room to accommodate all attendees?
- Does the venue provide accommodations? If not, are there hotels nearby if needed?
- Is catering included or can external catering companies easily access and work inside the venue?
- Are there enough parking spots for those who drive?
- Does the venue have the right audio and video equipment? You will likely need a projection screen, microphone and lavaliers, plenty of charging spots for participants and solid WiFi access.
Why – Why hold an opioid workshop or seminar?
- What is the purpose and the goal of the event?
- What will the agenda look like?
- What types of speakers, panelists or subject matter experts will you invite?
- What will be the key takeaways?
Which Topics Will Be Discussed at the Event?
The opioid epidemic is a very complex issue and it isn’t possible to cover every aspect in a single event. Consider which subjects you want to cover based on your goals and the existing knowledge of the attendees. Potential topics include:
- Prescription drug abuse/heroin epidemic overview
- Law enforcement perspective Personal testimonial from someone in recovery Pharmacy benefit management perspective
- Community/local resource representatives (e.g., United Way, SAMHSA, NAMI)
- Local health department
- Occupational health medical professional to discuss the disease aspect
- Treatment options, including medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and workplace-related issues
- Workplace drug testing issues, including maintaining a drug-free workplace, legal aspects and non-zero tolerance or return to work options
- Destigmatizing getting help
- Guidance for peer mentorshiip
- Guidance for a member assistance program (MAP) Resources, takeaways and time for questions and answers
- Resources, takeaways and time for questions and answers
Set a Budget
Preparing a budget with realistic estimates is useful when searching for venues and negotiating contracts. Here are some of the most common items to budget for:
- Additional IT costs depending on venue
- Marketing, including postage, if applicable
- Staff-related travel expenses
- Promotional items
Promoting the Event
- Identify which communication channels will be used:
- Flyers and posters
- Meeting announcements
- Social media
- Include messaging in existing communication and considering creating standalone communication pieces.
- Consider reaching out to contractor associations to increase contractor involvement.
- What “RSVP by” date should go on the conference invite? This may depend on several factors (e.g., catering, hotel room blocks, etc.).
You want a strong lineup in order to attract attendees and guarantee a professional experience. Create a list of potential speakers you’d like to invite, then start making calls and writing emails. Here are a few questions to address:
- If the speaker is not affiliated with LIUNA, do they require a fee or other form of compensation to participate?
- What are their IT needs?
- Will they need to have transportation and accommodation arranged for them?
The LHSFNA can assist with developing event agendas and provide educational materials on opioids and related topics for distribution during the event. For further information, please reach out to Jamie Becker at 202-628-5465.
[Jamie Becker is the LHSFNA’s Director of Health Promotion.]