Category Archives: Organizing

Labor Unions and Political Participation in Comparative Perspective

Source: Jasmine Kerrissey Evan Schofer, Social Forces, Advance Access, June 6, 2018
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From the abstract:
This research uses comparative survey data to examine the effects of labor union membership on individual political participation. We argue that national political institutions—specifically, democracy and corporatism—shape the ways that unions mobilize their members to engage in the political sphere. Democratic regimes provide structural opportunities and cultural repertoires that lead unions to focus on member mobilization, especially via contentious politics and political parties. Corporatism, which directly links unions to state structures, undercuts the logics and incentives for union mobilization. We draw upon historical cases of Germany, the United States, Chile, and Egypt to illustrate how democracy and corporatism shape unions’ mobilization efforts. Multilevel models of World Values Survey data from roughly 60 countries find that union members participate more than non-members across a range of electoral and extra-institutional political acts, such as demonstrating, occupying buildings, signing petitions, party work, and so forth. In democratic societies, such effects are stronger and participation shifts toward parties and contentious politics. In less democratic societies, union members are particularly likely to work with and through other political organizations. Corporatist arrangements generally dampen the political activities of union members.

Five Lessons from the History of Public Sector Unions

Source: Priscilla Murolo, Labor Notes, June 11, 2018

As public sector unions contemplate losing key rights under the law, it’s worth remembering that for much of their history, such unions organized with no rights at all.

It wasn’t till 1958 that New York became the first city to authorize collective bargaining for city employees. Wisconsin did the same for state employees in 1959, and federal workers got bargaining rights in 1962.

Yet as early as 1940, a book titled One Thousand Strikes of Government Employees described strikes dating back to the 1830s, when workers at U.S. Navy shipyards stopped work multiple times to press demands for better wages and conditions. ….

Worksheet: Plan Your March on the Boss

Source: Ryan Olds, Labor Notes, June 7, 2018

Marches on the boss come in different flavors. Some are spontaneous, as in Auriana Fabricatore’s story where a “mini-march” got great results. She was smart to encourage her co-workers to confront their manager immediately, while they were fired up with righteous anger—if they had set a date for next week, nervous jitters might have set in.

In other cases you’ll want to plan ahead, to get more people involved and maximize impact. Your action should be well planned but quick, before management finds out or members lose interest.

The tone of the confrontation can vary too, depending on your workplace culture, how strongly your co-workers feel about the issue, and how they feel about the boss. You may want a lighter touch—making your point respectfully, attempting a sit-down meeting, or delivering documents for the boss to review. Or your group may be ready for a more aggressive tone—showing anger, blocking the exits so the boss can’t run away, and timing the march to disrupt operations.

Related:
How We Marched on Our Boss
Source: Auriana Fabricatore, Labor Notes, June 7, 2018

Before It All Melts Away

Source: Chris Brooks, Labor Notes, May 30, 2018

Will this spring’s wave of teacher strikes lead to stronger unions? Not if their unions return to business as usual.

The motor force behind the strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona, Colorado, and North Carolina is teachers’ deep frustration. Educators are feeling the pinch from decades of funding cuts that their unions have been unable to stop…..

Teen Organizers in Birmingham Are Working to Build an Inclusive Movement

Source: Lizzie Shackney, Teen Vogue, May 30, 2018

….The March for Our Lives Birmingham student organizers knew that diverse leadership mattered, but they struggled to achieve suburban/urban equity within the structure of their group in the month leading up to the event. Their efforts were hindered by the fact that before the march, they say, they had only a limited connection to the city of Birmingham and the students who went to school there.

In order to understand the challenge of building a representative antigun violence movement in Birmingham, one must examine the state of segregation in Jefferson County. Today, high schools in suburban school districts such as Hoover, Mountain Brook, Trussville, and Vestavia Hills are majority white. Birmingham City Schools are 99 percent black. It’s likely that the barriers to inclusive, coalition-based organizing derive from systems set up long ago to prevent the recognition of shared interests and collective action…..

Attending Protests Isn’t the Only Way to Be An Activist

Source: Amnesty International USA, Teen Vogue – Civil Discourse 101, May 29, 2018

Teen Vogue’s Civil Discourse 101 features Amnesty International USA staff members, who answer questions from young activists as part of its #Right2Protest series. ….

…. Protesting is only one tactic in the toolbox of direct action, and direct action is only one (albeit large) part of efforts to achieve social justice. There are many other ways to be involved and enact meaningful change that don’t include participating in a protest. ….

Poor People’s Campaign

Source: Economic Policy Institute, 2018

Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference organized the Poor People’s Campaign to demand economic justice and human rights for all Americans. On the 50th anniversary of the Poor People’s Campaign, EPI is producing a series of snapshots illuminating why poverty persists and how public policy has helped or fallen short in the goal of eradicating poverty.

Articles include:
50 years after the Poor People’s Campaign, poverty persists because of a stingy safety net and a dysfunctional labor market
Source: Elise Gould and Jessica Schieder, Economic Policy Institute, Economic Snapshot, May 24, 2018

Poverty persists 50 years after the Poor People’s Campaign: Black poverty rates are more than twice as high as white poverty rates
Source: Elise Gould and Jessica Schieder, Economic Policy Institute, Economic Snapshot, May 17, 2018

Steward’s Corner: Legal Rights in a Contract Campaign

Source: Robert M. Schwartz, Labor Notes, May 16, 2018

In today’s dysfunctional economic climate, straightforward bargaining frequently comes up empty.

Employers come to the table with lengthy lists of takeaways and refuse to compromise. Claiming impasse at the earliest opportunity, they threaten to carry out their final offer or impose a lockout. To cope with these realities many unions are turning to militant contract campaigns. Creative and aggressive tactics can demonstrate members’ solidarity, resolve, and willingness to act…..