Category Archives: Organizing

Teachers Rise Up For Raises

Source: 1A, April 3, 2018

The success of the teachers’ strike in West Virginia, which resulted in a 5 percent pay increase, has inspired a movement among educators across the nation. Teachers and their supporters have staged demonstrations in Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arizona, closing down some public schools in those states — and more strikes could be coming soon. Average annual wages for K-12 teachers range from $59,000 to $61,000 nationally, but many classroom educators in red states earn thousands less than the average. How are local governments addressing teachers’ demands? And how is the new national conversation over compensation altering our ideas about what a teacher is worth?

5 things to know about the teacher strike in Oklahoma
Source: Erin McHenry-Sorber, The Conversation, April 3, 2018

The Oklahoma teachers strike is about more than just pay, but rather a longstanding pattern of decline in funding for the state’s public schools.

The Only Way to Survive Janus

Source: Alexandra Bradbury, Labor Notes, March 30, 2018

The snows were still flying, but for unionists, spring came early this year. West Virginia’s teacher uprising burst onto the scene like rhododendrons opening: first one walkout, then another, and before you knew it a statewide strike was in full bloom.

The strikes were born at the grassroots, and that’s how they spread. Classroom teachers passed the word on Facebook, organized school votes, and rallied at the capital. Union leaders followed their members, but never took the reins.

No one seemed much concerned that public sector strikes are illegal in West Virginia. “What are they going to do, fire us all?” said Jay O’Neal, treasurer for the Kanawha County local.

It didn’t take long for the spirit to spread to underpaid teachers in three other states—thus far.

Their actions drove home a point that’s crucial for anyone who wants to see the labor movement survive. What’s required is members organizing themselves like those teachers did.

The Power of Place

Source: Michael M Oswalt, The Cambridge Handbook of U.S. Labor Law: Reviving American Labor for a 21st Century Economy (Richard Bales & Charlotte Garden, eds.) (CAMBRIDGE UNIV. PRESS, Forthcoming). March 22, 2018

From the abstract:
While asking voters to make electoral decisions in spaces owned and curated by an interested party would be perceived as outlandish in a political context, labor law encourages it. This chapter presses for reform by highlighting cutting-edge electoral field research, backed by established work on context, memory, and decision-making, suggesting that voting in what is effectively the employer’s campaign headquarters is profoundly preference distorting. That change is possible is highlighted by the reality that although so-called “on-site” voting has long been the National Labor Relations Board’s practice, nothing about it is legally compelled. In fact, the law requires only that polling places be picked on a case-by-case basis through a variety of factors like convenience and integrity. The problem, however, is that non-binding administrative guidance makes workplace voting effectively automatic. Though the guidelines have proved surprisingly durable, the case for rewriting them has never been stronger. Doing so is important not simply to reclaim representation elections from the margins of democratic practice, but to initiate a modern era of neutral-site, mail, and even internet-based voting.

MLK’s vision matters today for the 43 million Americans living in poverty

Source: Joshua F.J. Inwood, The Conversation, April 2, 2018

On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, while fighting for a 10-cent wage increase for garbage workers. These efforts by King were part of a broader and more sustained initiative known as the Poor People’s Campaign.

King was working to broaden the scope of the civil rights movement to include poverty and the end of the war in Vietnam. King and his leadership team planned to bring thousands of poor people to Washington, D.C., where they would camp out on the National Mall until Congress passed legislation to eradicate poverty.

King was convinced that for the civil rights movement to achieve its goals, poverty needed to become a central focus of the movement. He believed the poor could lead a movement that would revolutionize society and end poverty. As King noted, “The only real revolutionary, people say, is a man who has nothing to lose. There are millions of poor people in this country who have little, or nothing to lose.”

With over 43 million people living in poverty in the United States today, King’s ideas still hold much power.

Martin Luther King Jr. had a much more radical message than a dream of racial brotherhood
Source: Paul Harvey, The Conversation, March 30, 2018

Black Futures Lab

Source: Black Futures Lab, 2018

Black Futures Lab works with Black people to transform our communities, building Black political power and changing the way that power operates—locally, statewide, and nationally.

The problems facing Black communities are complex. The solutions to these problems will come from our imagination, our innovation, and experimentation. Changing our communities for the better requires changing a culture that takes Black people for granted and changing policies and laws that make us criminals and keep resources from our communities.

To get there, we work to understand the dynamics impacting our communities; we build the capacity of our communities to govern; and we engage and include Black people in the decisions that impact our lives.

There are three ways that Black Futures Lab is a different kind of project for change: our mission to engage Black voters year-round; our commitment to use our political strength to stop corporate influences from creeping into progressive policies; and our plan to combine technology and traditional organizing methods to reach Black people anywhere and everywhere we are.


Black Census
Welcome to the Black Census, a project of the Black Futures Lab. This survey was created for understanding the opinions of the Black community and will take about 20 minutes to complete.  Your participation is voluntary, and you may withdraw at any time and skip any questions that make you feel uncomfortable. All of your responses are confidential and only reported without information that could identify you.

Black Lives Matter cofounder launches biggest survey of the black population “after Reconstruction” Source: Aaron Morrison, Mic, February 26, 2018

Alicia Garza, cofounder of the Black Lives Matter movement, said she is beginning a new chapter of her groundbreaking work in the modern struggle for black liberation. In an announcement Monday, Garza formally launched the Black Futures Lab, a broad effort to engage black people, legislators and grassroots organizations working to build political power and enact policies that make black communities stronger. The lab’s first major undertaking will be a national data collection effort that Garza is calling the Black Census Project. It will attempt to methodologically survey tens of thousands of black people in nearly two dozen states on issues that disproportionately affect them, according to the announcement…..

….Through an online survey and door-knocking operation, the Black Census Project wants to hear directly from 200,000 black Americans about issues of generational oppression, mass incarceration, police violence and inequities in access to health care and employment, the announcement stated. The survey will target 20 states and the District of Columbia, chosen for their concentration of black Americans, black LGBT communities and black immigrants, among other black demographics, Garza said…..

\….The states include Alabama, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi and Texas. The Black Futures Lab will dispatch field organizers who will conduct in-person surveys in March. The online survey will be available through August. Once compiled and analyzed, the data will be revealed by the end of 2018, according to the lab’s announcement…..

Is There Light at the End of the Tunnel? How Can Organized Labor Survive and Thrive in Dark Times

Source: New Labor Forum, March 2018
(subscription required)

Going on Offense during Challenging Times
By Marilyn Sneiderman and Secky Fascione
How collective bargaining becomes a revolutionary act.

Trump’s Triumph, Labor Resistance?
By Peter Olney
A year to remember.

The Problem of Workplace Democracy
By Barry Eidlin and Micah Uetricht
Will organized labor once again fight the battle for workplace democracy?

Justice on the Job for Nail Salon Workers
By Narbada Chhetri and Pabitra Dash with Kressent Pottenger
Organizing on the far side of the economy is gaining ground once thought impossible.

March for Our Lives awakens the spirit of student and media activism of the 1960s

Source: Errol Salamon, The Conversation, March 23, 2018

…..As an expert on the history of youth journalism and media activism that blossomed in the 1960s, I see today’s students as part of a continuum that began with that movement.

Despite not all being old enough to vote, Parkland students are putting pressure on government and private corporations to meet their demands.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a gun safety bill into law on March 9, while companies like Delta Airlines and Hertz have cut ties with the National Rifle Association. The student movement is a force to be reckoned with…..

The Changing Effectiveness of Local Civic Action: The Critical Nexus of Community and Organization

Source: Wesley Longhofer, Giacomo Negro, Peter W. Roberts, Administrative Science Quarterly, Online First, Published February 26, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
We examine changes in the effectiveness of local civic action in relation to changes over time in racial diversity and income inequality. Local civic action comprises situations in which community members come together—typically with support from local organizations—to address common issues. The collective orientation of local civic action makes it sensitive to changes in local social conditions. As these changes unfold, local organizations become differentially able to support civic action. Here, our core argument features the process through which community members associate with different local organizations and how mandated versus voluntary association results in distinct responses to increased social and economic heterogeneity. We test this argument using three decades of data describing local campaigns of the annual Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF program. A baseline model shows that within-county increases in racial diversity and income inequality are associated with diminished campaign effectiveness. Subsequent models that separate out campaigns organized by schools, churches, and clubs show that schools are relatively more effective mobilizers as racial diversity and income inequality increase, arguably due to the greater demographic matching that is induced by mandated school participation.