Present the idea at a local meeting and talk to co-workers informally. The goal is not to find out who wants to sign up. You will do that later. The goal is to share the information your group has gathered to get members thinking about it. Let them know you are thinking about setting up a program and find out their feelings on the issue. You'll start to get a sense of what your members are interested in and what kind of program model might work for them. You may be surprised by the number of members interested in improving their math, writing or communications skills, or how many are looking for second language training. If your workplace has a number of people who do not have English or French as a first language, be sure to have discussions or prepare material in the languages of those workers.
Once you have raised awareness and built support, it is time to make the program happen.
Your planning committee now has to decide what kind of involvement your local is going to have. Are you going to set up a union-run program or will you work with your employer on a joint program? You need to determine how big a role your union will play.
Running the program yourself gives the union more control, freedom, and flexibility. You are in a better position to ensure union values and objectives are met. You are also better able to integrate literacy education with other union priorities. This option does not have to mean that you are going at it alone. You can share the work with other locals or unions at your workplace or in your community. You can also call on your local community college or school board, or a labour sponsored program for their experience and expertise in workplace literacy.
Even if you choose a union-run program, you might still need some support from your employer. If you want to hold classes in the workplace, if you want financial support, if you want members to be released from their job to attend the class, then you will need your employer on side. Some union-run programs work with the employer on a joint coordinating committee to determine the logistics of the program at the local level.