Category Archives: Organizing

Why workers go on strike

Source: M. Simms, The Conversation, March 23, 2018

The employment relationship – between employer and employee – is full of tensions, bargains and compromises. Even the most motivated employee has days when they would rather be doing something else. Or when they simply dislike the way their boss asked them to do something. These tension points often go unnoticed and unremarked upon. They are usually part of the give and take in the workplace.

Sometimes, however, they flare into something bigger. An industrial dispute is the most collective and formal manifestation of those tensions. A strike brings those compromises into sharp relief for all the parties involved. Strikes have become far less common as there are fewer workplaces where trade unions are recognised and well organised. But they do still happen, as recent strikes among junior doctors and higher education professionals highlight….

Organizing On-Demand: Representation, Voice, and Collective Bargaining in the Gig Economy

Source: Hannah Johnston, Chris Land-Kazlauskas, International Labour Organization, Conditions of Work and Employment Series No. 94, 2018

…. We begin with an overview of gig and platform work and the structural and institutional challenges that gig- and platform-based workers in building collective, group agency. This is followed by a review gigworker organizing strategies based on the institutions or organizations that workers have formed or joined for the purpose of building agency. We stress the importance of workers’ organizations – broadly defined – as a site to agglomerate the economic, political, and cultural resources necessary to provoke change. The tenure of organizations allows workers to experiment with various tools and strategies to improve conditions and adopt those that are effective. The four organizational structures we explore (union renewal strategies and new organizing initiatives, worker forums, worker centres, and cooperatives) represent a comprehensive list of organizations that are actively organizing and supporting gig economy workers. Given the rapid turnover of the on-demand workforce, we view the tenacity and adaptive strategies of workers’ organizations as vital to developing a sustainable and dynamic labour movement. Each initiative examined has its own section delineated by a heading and a summary of the principle strategies used. We then turn to efforts by employers’ organizations to support their members in adapting to, and influencing these new realities.

The paper ends with a discussion of barriers that self-employed platform workers face to effectively achieve collective bargaining and efforts to achieve effective representation and collective bargaining for workers in the gig economy. In this section we discuss important steps that could be taken to ensure the right to freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining among independent contractors, who often find their these rights curtailed by anti-trust legislation. This section also highlights a number of recent efforts at collective regulation undertaken by workers and platforms in the gig economy…..

KING: Fifty years after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, his legacy is still being written

Source: The Atlantic, Special Issue, 2018

Articles Include:

The Chasm Between Racial Optimism and Reality
JEFFREY GOLDBERG
Five decades after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., equality, for many, remains a distant dream.

I. THE MAN
My Father Chose Nonviolence
BERNICE A. KING
During another polarizing period in America’s history, Bernice A. King lays out three actions that she thinks her father would offer today.

The Young Man Who Became a Civil-Rights Icon
PATRICK PARR
Before he led the Montgomery bus boycott or marched on Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. was a chain-smoking, pool-playing student at Crozer Theological College just discovering his passion for social justice.

The Arc of a Life
ELI LEE
A timeline

How Martin Luther King Jr. Recruited John Lewis
VANN R. NEWKIRK II
The Georgia congressman on what it was like to know the iconic activist

Coretta Scott King and the Civil-Rights Movement’s Hidden Women
JEANNE THEOHARIS
She was far more than her husband’s helpmate, but along with many other leaders of the era, her leadership was hidden in plain sight.

‘Martin Luther King Jr.’s Unfinished Work on Earth Must Truly Be Our Own’
BENJAMIN E. MAYS
Five days after King was assassinated, his “spiritual mentor” Benjamin Mays delivered a eulogy for his former student.

Martin Luther King Jr. Saw Three Evils in the World
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
Racism was only the first.

II. RACISM
On Equality
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
In 1967, the civil-rights leader foresaw that white resistance to racial equality would stiffen as activists’ economic agenda grew more ambitious.

Racism Is ‘Built into the Very Bones’ of Mississippi
JESMYN WARD
Jesmyn Ward reflects on choosing to raise her children in her home state.

The Whitewashing of King’s Assassination
VANN R. NEWKIRK II
The death of Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t a galvanizing event, but the premature end of a movement that had only just begun.

‘Let My People Vote’
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
In June 1965, the Voting Rights Act languished in the House Rules Committee after passage in the Senate. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote this letter to the New York Amsterdam News urging its passage as the first step in ensuring access to the ballot.

Jesse Williams and John Legend Talk Race in America
ADRIENNE GREEN
“America is cool because of black people. Our music is black. Our aesthetic is black … We are as American as you can be, and what do we get for it?”

III. POVERTY
The Crisis in America’s Cities
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
Martin Luther King Jr. on what sparked the violent urban riots of the “long hot summer” of 1967

Where Have All the Rioters Gone?
MATTHEW DESMOND
Good jobs in black communities have disappeared, evictions are the norm, and extreme poverty is rising. Cities should be exploding—but they aren’t.

The Geography of Oppression
LATOYA RUBY FRAZIER
Shooting from a helicopter, the artist LaToya Ruby Frazier documented how King’s assassination affected the physical structures of cities.

How Much Had Schools Really Been Desegregated by 1964?
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
Ten years after Brown v. Board of Education, Martin Luther King Jr. condemned how little had changed in the nation’s classrooms.

Still Separate and Unequal
EVE L. EWING
The civil-rights activist’s vision for education was far grander than integration alone. How disappointed he would be.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Call For a Poor People’s Campaign
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
In early 1968, the activist planned a massive protest in the nation’s capital.

America’s Moral Malady
WILLIAM J. BARBER II
The nation’s problem isn’t that we don’t have enough money. It’s that we don’t have the moral capacity to face what ails society.

How the Civil-Rights Movement Aimed to End Poverty
A. PHILIP RANDOLPH AND BAYARD RUSTIN
“A Freedom Budget for All Americans” proposed spending billions of federal dollars to provide jobs and basic welfare to all citizens.

IV. MILITARISM
Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Letter From Birmingham Jail’
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
“We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom.”

Freedom Ain’t Free
CLINT SMITH
Martin Luther King Jr. was bailed out of Birmingham Jail by a millionaire. Incarcerated people today aren’t so lucky.

The Civil-Rights Movement’s Generation Gap
BREE NEWSOME
Activist Bree Newsome on bridging the divided perspectives of the young and old.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Protest Against a Racist Court System
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
On Easter Sunday in 1958, the civil-rights leader led a “prayer pilgrimage” in Montgomery, Alabama, to protest the inequality of a young man’s death sentence.

How Kara Walker Recasts Racism’s Bitter Legacy
ADRIENNE GREEN
The artist’s works turn the brutality of history inside out.

Martin Luther King Jr. on the Vietnam War
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
“The greatest irony and tragedy of all is that our nation, which initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world, is now cast in the mold of being an arch anti-revolutionary.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Mourns Trayvon Martin
LAUREN K. ALLEYNE
A poem

Related:
Nonviolence and Social Change
Source: Martin Luther King Jr., 1967

In 1967, Martin Luther King Jr delivered a lecture calling on the “dispossessed of this nation” to revolt in nonviolent struggle. We reprint it here in full.

Teachers Rise Up For Raises

Source: 1A, April 3, 2018
(audio)

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?

Related:
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.

Related:
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.

Related:

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…..