The UAW defeat in Chattanooga is only the latest exhibit of why Whole Worker Organizing, and, a theory of worker organizing that understands workers are not just workers, they are mothers, fathers, sisters, members of various houses of faith, involved in sports clubs and their kids schools, etc is urgent if US unions want a credible fight back against very powerful forces.
How the Rise of Women in Labor Could Save the Movement
Women have only recently made headway into real positions of power in organized labor, after making slow progress over the movement’s history. These women are bringing new ideas and strategies to labor organizing, many of which are borrowed from the women’s movement—like making the connection between what workers face on the job and what they’re dealing with at home.
McAlevey’s approach blends the two realms, public and private life, which have historically been gendered—men go to work and care about wages, women stay home and care about the roof over their families’ heads and what’s for dinner. But focusing on mobilizing workers alone is no longer enough. “If you want to contend for power, and workers need a lot more power than what they have in this country right now, we actually have to bring power to the table with us,” McAlevey explains.
There’s a terrific new review of Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell) in the current issue of New Labor Forum.
The signal strength of Jane McAlevey’s bracing, provocative, fantastic-read of a book is that in the act of reading it, you begin to feel the power that strong organizing can help create. For union members (and those aspiring to union membership), Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell) does just that: raises expectations of what good organizing can do, and what good unions can be.
Many sections read as pithy how-to guides: what you need to do a sticker-up; how to identify leaders in the workplace, what to do to keep momentum going in a campaign. In reading this comprehensive and gripping narrative of the blow-by-blow, you can imagine how tight the corners you are forced into can become, and she gives you many escape routes.
There are no shortcuts to building the kind of power it takes to win meaningful change. As an organizer in a county with an acute housing crisis, simmering racial tension and little unionization, I learned that I had to help the community to take on the fight themselves. The final article in our “Transformative Nonviolence” series with Waging Nonviolence.
Read the full article at Open Democracy UK
A hard look at the campaign by retail and fast-food workers to earn a living wage.
In August, fast food workers in 58 cities walked off the job—a dramatic escalation of a campaign for a $15-per-hour wage that has tapped into a latent anger among low-wage workers, whose economic precariousness at a time of record corporate profits has led to strikes, a tactic long thought out of style.
A new documentary about the history of the labor movement, called Strength in Union, includes an interview with yours truly. So far, Caesar Pink, the director of the documentary, has interview lots of interesting folks in the US labor movement. Check out the little story TruthOut just wrote about it.
My clip starts at 0:43, click here to view.
Making money off illness is sickening. Depriving the needy of life-saving healthcare should be criminal.
Last month, I lost my too-young-to-die sister to a BRCA#1 breast cancer. When I was a toddler not yet in kindergarten, breast cancer robbed me of my mother. I am a BRCA#1 gene carrier, and recently wrote about it in my memoir, Raising Expectations and Raising Hell. Neither my sister nor my mother’s premature deaths, nor my own writing could possibly have turned BRCA#1 (and #2) into a household conversation the way a beautiful movie star could. Like millions of women, I have been reading the praise, the misogynist “jokes,” and the criticism being lobbed at Angelina Jolie.
Make the Road New York was formed in 2007, when the Brooklyn-based Make the Road by Walking and the Queens-based Latin American Integration Center merged, forming the largest nonunion immigrant membership organization in New York City. Today, with 12,600 dues-paying members, MRNY is a unique amalgam of worker center, legal clinic, citizenship school, mutual aid society, policy shop, protest factory and church. Its four offices in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island are an egalitarian oasis for members, who gather there for conversation and classes.
The Desert Springs contract had now expired. This was a big deal. Under U.S. labor law, when a contract expires, four dangerous things happen: workers can strike; the employer can lock workers out; the employer can stop collecting union membership dues from the workers’ paychecks; and the “permanent window” period for decertifying the union begins. In short, everything escalates. Shutting down dues collection is a major escalation and creates an immediate crisis. It rarely happens. Unions have to fight for contracts that stipulate that the employer deduct union dues from the paychecks of the union members and forward the money to the union. This is the money that keeps things running, and a union can find itself suddenly bankrupt if a large employer stops collecting dues. And a strike, well, a strike is another order of magnitude entirely. And a strike in a hospital, well, that had never happened in the history of Las Vegas.
Download the PDF version Or view it online after the jump.