Category Archives: Organizing

Race Capitalism Justice

Source: Boston Review, Forum I, 2017
(subscription required)

Walter Johnson, Harvard historian and author of the acclaimed River of Dark Dreams, urges us to embrace a vision of justice attentive to the history of slavery—not through the lens of human rights, but instead through an honest accounting of how slavery was the foundation of capitalism, a legacy that continues to afflict people of color and the poor. Inspired by Cedric J. Robinson’s work on racial capitalism, as well as Black Lives Matter and its forebears—including the black radical tradition, the Black Panthers, South African anti-apartheid struggles, and organized labor—contributors to this volume offer a critical handbook to racial justice in the age of Trump.

Get Your Protest On: Tips for Taking It to the Streets

Source: Rebecca Givan, Labor Notes, February 9, 2017

On January 28 I woke up, heard the news about immigrants being detained because of the president’s executive order, and decided to head over to New York’s JFK Airport. …

…. My union often participates in actions beyond our own workplaces, but because this executive order happened so suddenly, we had no time to get organized….

This was a large, safe protest where many participants didn’t have much protest experience. Here are a few lessons and observations:

1. Dress warmly and flexibly. ….
2. Wear your union logo on your sleeve, sign, or shirt. ….
3. Bring your own sign. ….
4. Bring supplies to share with others. ….
5. Manage your food and water intake. ….
6. Trust community groups and organizers. ….
7. Affected communities to the front. ….
8. Elected officials help. ….
9. Numbers matter. ….
10. Lawyers can work in parallel to protestors. ….
11. Use what you’ve got. ….
12. Use social media well. ….
13. Share good news. ….
14. When you get home, tell people you were there. ….

How the Black Lives Matter Movement Is Mobilizing Against Trump

Source: Brandon Ellington Patterson, Mother Jones, February 7, 2017

Donald Trump repeatedly expressed hostility towards Black Lives Matter activists during his presidential campaign, particularly for their efforts to confront police brutality. Now, faced with a Trump agenda whose repercussions for African Americans could reach far beyond policing, BLM organizers say they are broadly expanding their mission. …. In the wake of Trump’s immigration order, BLM organizers mobilized their networks to turn out at airports to protest. The groups also fired up their social media networks to amplify calls for the release of detained travelers. BLM leaders say their strategy will evolve as more details become known about what Trump plans to do on matters ranging from policing and reproductive rights to climate change and LGBT issues. They will focus on combating what they see as Trump’s hostile, retrograde agenda—and that of right-wing politicians emboldened by Trump—primarily at the state and local levels. ….

Solidarity Outlasts ‘Right to Work’ in Indiana Shipyard

Source: Alexandra Bradbury, Labor Notes, February 2, 2017

Plenty of union officers are justifiably worried about how many members will quit their unions if Congress or the Supreme Court imposes “right to work” conditions on the whole country.

But when right to work hit Indiana in 2012, it didn’t have much impact at the Jeffboat shipyard in Jeffersonville. “I believe we only have one person that’s dropped out,” said Teamsters Local 89 Business Agent Jeff Cooper. That’s one out of 700.

The Jeffboat story might reassure you—because their secrets to maintaining membership aren’t expensive or complicated. The union has a deep bench of stewards who seek out and address workplace problems. Because members strike when necessary, they’ve won good wages and health insurance that make the value of the union contract self-evident. And they’re systematic about asking new hires to join.

Five Steps to Maintain Unity and Membership under Right to Work

Source: Leah Fried, Labor Notes, February 1, 2017

Number one on the new administration’s anti-union to-do list is “right to work”—or as many prefer to call it, “no rights at work” or “right to work for less.” But whatever you call it, more of us will be faced with new laws that codify freeloading, making it optional to pay for union representation.

Today Republicans in Congress are expected to introduce a bill to enact nationwide right to work in the private sector. And it’s nearly certain that a conservative-majority Supreme Court will make the entire public sector right to work within 18 months to two years.

How can unions operate under these hostile conditions? There are already 27 right-to-work states where we can look for lessons. Unions there take a big hit—but some manage to survive and even thrive, despite the extra challenges.

At the Electrical Workers (UE), where I organized for 19 years, we developed trainings to help members in right-to-work states maintain their unity and membership. Here’s what it takes:

1. FIGHT THE BOSS. ….
2. ASK PEOPLE TO JOIN. ….
3. MAKE MEMBERSHIP THE UNION’S BUSINESS, NOT THE BOSS’S. ….
4. TRACK UNION MEMBERSHIP. ….
5. INVOLVE MEMBERS IN BIGGER MOVEMENTS. ….

The Anti-Inauguration: A Free Ebook

Source: Jacobin, Verso, & Haymarket 2017

Just a few hours after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, a thousand people joined Jacobin, Verso Books, and Haymarket Books at the historic Lincoln Theatre in Washington, DC, for “The Anti-Inauguration,” a night of discussion on how Donald Trump came to win the election, how we can resist him, and what kind of future we should be fighting for. The line to get in stretched down an alley and around the block; people were actually outside scalping tickets for a free socialist event. The night featured speeches from Naomi Klein, Jeremy Scahill, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Anand Gopal, and Owen Jones. Their speeches are collected in The Anti-Inauguration: Building resistance in the Trump era, a free ebook from Jacobin, Verso, Haymarket.

Featuring Naomi Klein, Jeremy Scahill, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Anand Gopal, and Owen Jones on resisting Trump’s agenda and building the future we need.

MLK’s Advice on Strike Strategy Still Relevant Today

Source: Rand Wilson, Labor Notes, January 18, 2017

…King’s strategic advice to the striking Memphis sanitation workers is still useful for workers seeking to improve their lives with direct action today:
– Once on strike, expand the struggle beyond the immediate company to its corporate allies and suppliers.
– Use boycotts and economic action to involve supporters.
– Transform the pain inflicted on strikers to pain inflicted on executives, board members, and investors.
– Be prepared to stay in the struggle one day longer with “dangerous unselfishness.”
– And perhaps most importantly, place the struggle in a larger context that challenges elected officials and government at every level to make America a better nation!

Forum – Trump: A Resister’s Guide

Source: Harper’s Magazine, February 2017

We have a new president who is also a new kind of president. Our previous chief executives — at least those of the post–World War II era — were not in the business of outright bigotry and misogyny. Nor did they make common cause with white supremacists, boast about sexual assault, or threaten to jail their opponents. Nor did they openly deride and undermine the traditions and institutions that it is the president’s duty to uphold. Donald Trump is different. Since he was elected in November, many Americans have struggled to assimilate our changed reality, the radical discontinuity that his victory represents. It has been a long winter, a season of fear, grief, and, perhaps above all, rage — a feeling compounded by its seeming futility. “Impotent hatred is the worst of all emotions,” Goethe said. “One should hate nobody whom one cannot destroy.” As a once-unthinkable Trump presidency gets under way, it is time to recognize that we are not as impotent as we may have felt — that even if we cannot destroy Trump, we can resist his primitive vision to the best of our abilities. There are no guarantees that we will succeed, but, as the writers in this forum all make clear, not to try would be a dereliction. A new kind of president demands a new kind of citizen.

Articles include:
Terms of Engagement
by Tim Barker
Tim Barker is a doctoral student in history at Harvard and an editor-at-large of Dissent.

Letter to Silicon Valley
by Kate Crawford
Kate Crawford is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research, a visiting professor at MIT, and a senior research fellow at NYU.

Libidinal Politics
by Katrina Forrester
Katrina Forrester teaches history at Queen Mary University of London.

Hymn to Harm City
by Lawrence Jackson
Lawrence Jackson’s fourth book, Chester B. Himes: A Biography, will be published this summer.

Terrorist and Alien
by Nimmi Gowrinathan and Valeria Luiselli
Valeria Luiselli is the author of the novel The Story of My Teeth (2015) and the essay collection Sidewalks (2013).
Nimmi Gowrinathan is a professor and the director of the Politics of Sexual Violence Initiative at the City College of New York.

The Dream of the Enemy
by Corey Robin
Corey Robin, a professor at Brooklyn College, is the author of Fear (2006) and The Reactionary Mind (2011).

Lessons From the Last Fight
by Sarah Schulman
Sarah Schulman is the author of eighteen books, most recently Conflict Is Not Abuse (2016).

Democracy How?
by Celina Su
Celina Su is the Marilyn J. Gittell Chair in Urban Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

In End Time
by Simone White
Simone White is the author of two volumes of poetry, including Of Being Dispersed (2016).

American Nightmare
by Wesley Yang
Wesley Yang is at work on his first book.

The Winds of Changes Shift: An Analysis of Recent Growth in Bargaining Units and Representation Efforts in Higher Education

Source: William A. Herbert, City University of New York – Hunter College, December 2016, Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy (forthcoming)

From the abstract:
This article analyzes data accumulated during the first three quarters of 2016 regarding completed and pending questions of representation involving faculty and student employees in higher education. It is part of a larger and continuing National Center research project that tracks faculty and graduate student employee unionization growth and representation efforts at private and public institutions of higher learning since January 1, 2013.

The data presented in this article demonstrates that the rate of newly certified units at private colleges and universities since January 1, 2016 far outpaces new units in the public sector. There has been a 25.9% increase in certified private sector faculty units over the number of private sector units identified by the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions in 2012, while the increase in the public sector has been 2.1%. The largest number of newly certified units involves non-tenure track faculty at private non-profit institutions. The second largest group of new units in higher education involves tenured and tenure-track faculty at public institutions. The average final election tallies demonstrate strong support for unionization among higher education faculty: 72.8% among private sector tenured/tenure-track and contingent faculty, and 73.3% among public sector tenure-track and contingent faculty.

The article demonstrates that unionization efforts by private sector tenured and tenure-track faculty and faculty continue to be adversely impacted by two judicially-created doctrines, despite modifications made to the applicable standards in a 2014 National Labor Relations Board decision. It also examines pending and completed unionization efforts by graduate and research assistants in light of the recent NLRB decision finding that private sector graduate student employees are entitled to the associational rights guaranteed under federal labor law.