Category Archives: Organizing

The Surprising Power of Simply Asking Coworkers How They’re Doing

Source: Karyn Twaronite, Harvard Business Review, February 28, 2019

….Our study substantiated existing evidence that exclusion is a growing issue. We found that more than 40% of those we surveyed are feeling physically and emotionally isolated in the workplace. This group spanned generations, genders, and ethnicities.

In fact, the majority of individuals look to their homes first (62%), before their workplaces (34%) when it comes to where they feel the greatest sense of belonging. While the workplace exceeds neighborhood communities (19%) and places of worship (17%), many individuals spend most of their time at work, and creating workplace communities where people feel like they belong is imperative.

This tells us that many people want more connection with those they work with. So how can companies connect more effectively with employees and help them feel like they belong within their workplace community? The results of our survey pointed to one simple solution: establish more opportunities for colleagues to check in with one another.

We found that 39% of respondents feel the greatest sense of belonging when their colleagues check in with them, both personally and professionally. This was true across genders and age groups, with checking in being the most popular tactic for establishing a sense of belonging across all generations. By reaching out and acknowledging their employees on a personal level, companies and leaders can significantly enhance the employee experience by making their people feel valued and connected.

What didn’t seem to matter that much for belonging? Face time with senior leadership that wasn’t personal. Being invited to big or external events or presentations by senior leaders, as well as being copied on their emails, was simply less meaningful to employees when it came to feeling a sense of belonging….

Related:
New Cigna Study Reveals Loneliness at Epidemic Levels in America
Research Puts Spotlight on the Impact of Loneliness in the U.S. and Potential Root Causes
Source: Cigna, Press Release, May 1, 2018

Today, global health service company Cigna (NYSE: CI) released results from a national survey exploring the impact of loneliness in the United States. The survey, conducted in partnership with market research firm, Ipsos, revealed that most American adults are considered lonely.

The evaluation of loneliness was measured by a score of 43 or higher on the UCLA Loneliness Scale, a 20-item questionnaire developed to assess subjective feelings of loneliness, as well as social isolation. The UCLA Loneliness Scale is a frequently referenced and acknowledged academic measure used to gauge loneliness.

Rare Recordings of Civil Rights Activists Available Now

Source: Elizabeth Riordan, University of Iowa Libraries, News, February 12, 2019

Exciting news from University Archivist, David McCartney, about the incredible recordings found in the Eric Morton Civil Rights Papers.

In 1963 and 1964, attorney Bob Zellner recorded a series of interviews with civil rights activists in Mississippi and Alabama. Zellner conducted the interviews on behalf of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in an effort to document the activists’ experiences, which were often under challenging and violent circumstances.

The interviewees participated in the Mississippi Summer Project in 1964, later to be known as Freedom Summer, a drive to register African Americans in the Magnolia State to vote. For decades, attempts by blacks to register at county court houses across the state were met with intimidation, harassment, and even violence. Freedom Summer was an organized response to this situation, with activists from across the U.S. participating, including over 800 college and university students. Among them were about a dozen students from the University of Iowa.

How Black Activists Shaped the Labor Movement

Source: Kim Kelly, Teen Vogue, No Class, February 7, 2019

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spent his final full day on earth advocating for the rights of workers in what’s now known as his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech. It was April 3, 1968, and King stood up at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee, and spoke in support of the city’s 1,300 sanitation workers, who were then on strike fighting for better safety standards, union recognition, and a decent wage — a work stoppage that was inspired partly by the deaths of Echol Cole and Robert Walker, who had been crushed to death by a garbage truck.

“We’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end,” he told the assemblage. “Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point, in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through. And when we have our march, you need to be there. Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together.”,,,

Steward’s Corner: Where Do Good Organizers Come From?

Source: Ellen David Friedman, Labor Notes, February 4, 2019

We know good organizers when we meet them.

They’re accessible. They listen and show respect.

They react calmly to all kinds of people, take their time to size up a situation, and engage people on their own terms.

They brim with suggestions for action, but they’re open to new ideas. They’re not bossy. They always take workers’ side against employers—but among workers, they treat divisions with care and diligence.

They don’t act from fear, and they know how to help others lose their fear.

But few people are born organizers. Instead, we have to find and nurture people who show some interest and willingness to become organizers.

An experiment in Ithaca, New York, over the last two years has shown surprising results in helping workers become organizers, with a method easy to adapt and reproduce anywhere….

The Resurrection of American Labor

Source: Janet Paskin, Bloomberg Businessweek, February 7, 2019

Traditional unions may be stymied, but workers are finding new ways to organize….

According to the official records, U.S. workers went on strike seven times during 2017. That’s a particular nadir in the long decline of organized labor: the second-fewest work stoppages recorded by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics since the agency started keeping track in the 1940s.

There was little reason to believe 2018 would be different, especially with the U.S. Supreme Court, in two decisions, making it harder for public employees unions to fund themselves and restricting workers’ rights to bring class actions. The power of employers appeared to be almost limitless. The unions were, if not busted, then certainly on the verge.

Aggrieved workers, however, took matters into their own hands, using social media and other tech tools to enhance their campaigns. From industry walkouts to wildcat teachers’ strikes, they made very public demands of their employers. The official number of major work stoppages recorded by the BLS in 2018 nearly tripled, to 20. Off the picket line, workers also won a wide range of concessions. Facing employee pressure, Google and McKinsey & Co. dropped contracts for government work employees found objectionable; thousands of dismissed Toys “R” Us workers got a severance fund; and Starbucks Corp. expanded parental and sick leave policies.

In many cases, workers and their advocates bypassed their employers entirely…..

Everything You Need to Know About General Strikes

Source: Kim Kelly, Teen Vogue, No Class, January 24, 2019

The word strike seems to be on everyone’s lips these days. Workers across the world have been striking to protest poor working conditions, to speak out against sexual harassment, and to jumpstart stalled union negotiations. And as we just saw with the Los Angeles teachers’ successful large-scale strike, which spanned six school days, strikers have been winning. Despite the shot of energy that organized strikes have injected into the labor movement, many people aren’t content with run-of-the-mill work stoppages, or even with more militant wildcat strikes…..

….. So what does it all mean? How is a general strike different from a planned, industry-specific work stoppage; why are people interested in the idea now; and what would one look like in 2019? …..

The Greensboro Sit-In Protests, Explained

Source: Eric Ginsburg, Teen Vogue OG History, February 1, 2019

The first day of Black History Month is also the anniversary of a historic civil rights protest and the birth of a student-led movement. February 1 marks the 59th anniversary of the start of the Greensboro sit-ins, a protest started in 1960 by four college students against racial segregation in Greensboro, North Carolina. Their actions quickly spurred a nationwide movement that sparked a fresh wave of the civil rights era….

Beyond the Critique of Rights: The Puerto Rico Legal Project and Civil Rights Litigation in America’s Colony

Source: Valeria M. Pelet del Toro, Yale Law Journal, Vol. 128 no. 3, January 2019

Long skeptical of the ability of rights to advance oppressed groups’ political goals, Critical Legal Studies (CLS) scholars might consider a U.S. territory like Puerto Rico and ask, “What good are rights when you live in a colony?” In this Note, I will argue that CLS’s critique of rights, though compelling in the abstract, falters in the political and historical context of Puerto Rico. Although it may appear that rights have failed Puerto Ricans, rights talk has historically provided a framework for effective organizing and community action. Building on the work of Critical Race Theory and LatCrit scholars, this Note counters the CLS intuition that rights talk lacks value by focusing on the origins and development of the Puerto Rico Legal Project, an understudied but critical force for community development and legal advocacy on the island that was founded in response to severe political repression during the late 1970s and early 1980s. This Note draws on original interviews with Puerto Rican and U.S. lawyers and community activists to reveal fissures in the critique of rights and to propose certain revisions to the theory. By concentrating on the entitlements that rights are thought to provide, CLS’s critique of rights ignores the power of rights discourse to organize marginalized communities. The critique of rights also overlooks the value of the collective efforts that go into articulating a particular community’s aspirations through rights talk, efforts which can be empowering and help spur further political action. By analyzing twentieth-century Puerto Rican legal and political history and the Puerto Rico Legal Project, I demonstrate the value (and limits) of rights in a colonized nation.

America’s Teachers Are Furious

Source: Alia Wong, The Atlantic, January 22, 2019

From West Virginia to Los Angeles, educators are ushering in a new era of labor activism.

Related:
Political payback for the statewide teacher walkout?
Source: Andrea Eger, Tulsa World, January 22, 2019

Slew of newly filed bills aim to punish, limit future protests.

After LA’s Strike, “Nothing Will Be the Same”
AN INTERVIEW WITH ARLENE INOUYE
Source: Eric Blanc, Jacobin, January 23, 2019

The Los Angeles teachers’ strike was big, it was united, and now it’s victorious. We interview UTLA chief negotiator Arlene Inouye about how the strike turned the tables on the billionaire privatizers.

Los Angeles Teachers Strike for Higher Wages and Smaller Classes
Source: Christopher Palmeri, Bloomberg Businessweek, January 18, 2019

The district has lost enrollment to declining birthrates, rising housing costs, and charter schools.