Jane McAlevey has spent most of her life as an organizer and negotiator. She’s fourth generation union, raised in an activist-union household. She spent the first half of her organizing life working in the community organizing and environmental justice movements and the second half in the union movement. She has led power structure analyses and strategic planning trainings for a wide range of union and community organizations in the USA and around the world, and has had extensive involvement in globalization and global environmental issues. She worked at the Highlander Research and Education Center as an educator (and as Deputy Director) in her early 20’s.
Author and Scholar
More recently, Jane has added, “author and scholar” to her bio. McAlevey earned a Ph.D. in June 2015, from the City University of New York’s Graduate Center, studying with Frances Fox Piven. In September 2015, she began a Post Doc at the Harvard Law School with the Labor & Worklife Program. Upon completion, she returned to consulting work with unions in and outside the USA.
McAlevey then returned to the field, helping to run the most successful hospital organizing campaign in years, in Philadelphia. Her work there included teaching workers to defeat a top union avoidance firm, organizing enough pressure to get an employer to actually withdraw manufactured legal charges aimed at delaying an NLRB election into oblivion, and coordinating and leading first contract negotiations.
In June of 2019, The Nation magazine invited McAlevey to officially join their team as Strikes correspondent. In July 2019, the University of California at Berkeley’s Labor Center, part of the Institute for Labor & Employment Relations, named her a Senior Policy Fellow. Her work with UCB is focused on leader development and civic engagement with the education community in California, and continues to lead international training work as well as write, including work on a fourth book.
Her first book, Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell), published by Verso Press, was named the “most valuable book of 2012” by The Nation magazine. The book chronicles her years organizing with unions, which included her serving as Executive Director and Chief Negotiator for a union local, as National Deputy Director for Strategic Campaigns of the Healthcare Division for SEIU, and she was the Campaign Director of the one of the only successful multi-union, multi-year, geographic organizing campaigns for the national AFL-CIO.
Her second book, No Shortcuts, Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age—basically her Ph.D. dissertation—was published by Oxford University Press in the fall of 2016. The book is the subject of numerous reviews and is generating considerable debate in and outside the labor movement in the USA and internationally.
A Collective Bargain, Unions, Organizing and the Fight for Democracy (2020), her third book, published by Ecco/HarperCollins, focuses on the links between the attack on workplace and civil democracy, and how the tactics of the right-wing can be overcome.