Category Archives: Organizing

How the Ivy League Collaborates with Donald Trump

Source: Nelson Lichtenstein, Dissent blog, April 25, 2017

…. Nowhere has this rejection of Trump’ extremism been more steadfast than on the university campus, especially at those elite, historically liberal institutions populating the coasts. At the University of California, where I teach, President Janet Napolitano has made clear that UC will protect undocumented students; Harvard, Yale, and Stanford are among seventeen schools joining a lawsuit against the Trump administration effort to ban immigration from Muslim countries. And in a joint opinion piece published in the Boston Globe, law school deans from Harvard and Yale declared the president “an enemy of the law and the Constitution” for his Twitter attacks on the judiciary.

Unfortunately, top university officials at Columbia and Yale have chosen to crack this wall of resistance. They have found in Trump an ally in their longstanding efforts to resist graduate employees’ efforts to unionize. They are ready, in other words, to collaborate—a word I do not use lightly. From their presidents on down, university labor-relations officials are hoping that Trump and the people he will soon appoint to the National Labor Relations Board will weigh in on management’s side and against those who are exercising their democratic right to organize and bargain with the school…..

In the Age of Trump, Can Labor Unite?

Source: Alexandra Bradbury, In These Times, May 2017

Donald Trump performed far better among union voters than previous Republican candidates, but since taking office has enacted disastrous anti-worker policies. Now, some unions are organizing their members around an explicitly progressive analysis, hoping to unlock the power of workers to help lead the resistance.

Showdown at Nissan: the 1989 campaign to organize Nissan in Smyrna, Tennessee, and the rise of the transplant sector

Source: Timothy J. Minchin, Labor History, Latest Articles, Published online: 05 Dec 2016
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From the abstract:
In July 1989, workers at Nissan’s plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, voted 1622 to 711 against being represented by the United Automobile Workers of America (UAW). At the time, many reporters saw the well-publicized Nissan vote – dubbed a ‘showdown’ by the New York Times – as a defining moment in modern labor history. The election deserves further exploration, especially as it played a key role in establishing the non-union ‘transplant’ sector. UAW leaders blamed the Smyrna loss on Nissan’s anti-union tactics, while the company claimed that workers did not need a union because they were already well paid (although this was largely due to the UAW’s presence). This article is the first to provide a detailed analysis that draws on the union’s records of the campaign, as well as many other sources. While the factors cited publicly were important, the article demonstrates that there were additional reasons for the union’s defeat, including internal divisions, unanticipated staffing problems, and the logistical challenge of organizing such a big – and new – facility. Although Nissan workers had many grievances, the company also fostered loyalty by not laying off workers, and by expanding the plant. Finally, it secured a high level of community support, and drew off the conservative political climate of the era.

What would MLK do if he were alive today: Six essential reads

Source: Kalpana Jain, The Conversation, March 20, 2017

March 21 marks the anniversary of the third protest march from Selma led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that culminated on the steps of the Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama, demanding voting rights for African-Americans.

As doctoral candidate at University of California, Irvine, Mary Schmitt explains, Selma was “a moment in civil rights history that played a crucial role in the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.”

The first march started on March 7, 1965, but ended in violence. The second march started on March 9. The third march started on March 21, with 3,200 people under the protection of federal troops. By the time the marchers reach the state Capitol in Montgomery on March 25, their numbers had swelled to 25,000.

Scholars writing for The Conversation have emphasized the relevance of King’s nonviolent – and successful – resistance movement today.

Here are some highlights from The Conversation’s coverage….
Related:
Martin Luther King’s Radical Legacy, From the Poor People’s Campaign to Black Lives Matter
Source: Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, Dissent, January 15, 2017

Gray and Green Together: Climate Change in an Aging World

Source: Robert B. Hudson, Public Policy & Aging Report, Volume 27 Issue 1, 2017

…Beyond documenting the mounting toll that climate change is taking on elders and others, there is obviously need to design and carry out interventions to mitigate the damage that such change will inevitably bring. Importantly, it is here where elders can be cast as players as well as victims. Older adults represent an enormous latent resource that can be mobilized to address the global warming challenge. Elders have knowledge, resources, and an intergenerational as well as personal stake to bring to this effort, one which clearly has “manifest destiny” written all over it.

How to get more elders involved in addressing climate change and what form that involvement might take are core elements of this issue of Public Policy & Aging Report. The articles here address a number of questions, including how concerned about climate change—absolutely and relative to younger age groups—are today’s elders; how to understand what role older adults play around global warming—change agents or contributors; and how can older people mobilize to meet the climate change challenge on behalf of themselves, their descendants, and the population at large….

Articles include:

Greening Gray: Climate Action for an Aging World
Source: Michael A. Smyer, Public Policy & Aging Report, Volume 27 Issue 1, 2017
(subscription required)

Growing Old in a Changing Climate
Source: Gary Haq, Public Policy & Aging Report, Volume 27 Issue 1, 2017
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How to Effectively Debunk Myths About Aging and Other Misconceptions
Source: John Cook, Public Policy & Aging Report, Volume 27 Issue 1, 2017
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Mobilizing Older People to Address Climate Change
Source: Karl Pillemer, David Filiberto, Public Policy & Aging Report, Volume 27 Issue 1, 2017
(subscription required)
Elders and Climate Change: No Excuses
Source: Rick Moody, Public Policy & Aging Report, Volume 27 Issue 1, 2017
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The Scream of Nature
Source: Kathy E. Sykes, Public Policy & Aging Report, Volume 27 Issue 1, 2017
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Never Too Old to Care: Reaching an Untapped Cohort of Climate Action Champions
Source: Susanne C. Moser, Public Policy & Aging Report, Volume 27 Issue 1, 2017
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Coconstructing Environmental Stewardship: A Detroit-Driven Participatory Approach
Source: Peter A. Lichtenberg, Carrie Leach, Nicholas Schroeck, Brian Smith, James Blessman, Public Policy & Aging Report, Volume 27 Issue 1, 2017
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The Paradox of Community Power: Cultural Processes and Elite Authority in Participatory Governance

Source: Jeremy R. Levine, Social Forces, Vol. 95 no. 3, March 2017
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From the abstract:
From town halls to public forums, disadvantaged neighborhoods appear more “participatory” than ever. Yet increased participation has not necessarily resulted in increased influence. This article, drawing on a four-year ethnographic study of redevelopment politics in Boston, presents an explanation for the decoupling of participation from the promise of democratic decision-making. I find that poor urban residents gain the appearance of power and status by invoking and policing membership in “the community”—a boundary sometimes, though not always, implicitly defined by race. But this appearance of power is largely an illusion. In public meetings, government officials can reinforce their authority and disempower residents by exploiting the fact that the boundary demarcating “the community” lacks a standardized definition. When officials laud “the community” as an abstract ideal rather than a specific group of people, they reduce “the community process” to a bureaucratic procedure. Residents appear empowered, while officials retain ultimate decision-making authority. I use the tools of cultural sociology to make sense of these findings and conclude with implications for the study of participatory governance and urban inequality.

Divisions Of Labor

Source: Barbara Erenreich, New York Times Magazine, February 23, 2017

New kinds of work require new ideas — and new ways of organizing. …. The old jobs aren’t coming back, but there is another way to address the crisis brought about by deindustrialization: Pay all workers better. The big labor innovation of the 21st century has been campaigns seeking to raise local or state minimum wages. Activists have succeeded in passing living-wage laws in more than a hundred counties and municipalities since 1994 by appealing to a simple sense of justice: Why should someone work full time, year-round, and not make enough to pay for rent and other basics? Surveys found large majorities favoring an increase in the minimum wage; college students, church members and unions rallied to local campaigns. Unions started taking on formerly neglected constituencies like janitors, home health aides and day laborers. And where the unions have faltered, entirely new kinds of organizations sprang up: associations sometimes backed by unions and sometimes by philanthropic foundations — Our Walmart, the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United. ….