Category Archives: Organizing

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…..

Why Young People Are Joining Unions Again

Source: Hannah Finnie, Talk Poverty blog, April 19, 2018

…. Young people are at a tipping point. They are frustrated by a system whose cracks were etched into place by preceding generations, but have only fully metastasized for theirs. They experience suffocating levels of student debt alongside declining wages and income equality while watching companies monopolize entire industries, and sometimes even nationwide elections. Representation—actual representation—feels more like theory than reality.

People are, finally, beginning to take notice of young people’s activism to fix that system. However, many are mistaking the new wave of media coverage dedicated to young people’s political activism for young people’s newfound political activism. It’s not that young people were ever politically dormant; it’s just that their activism has existed in places where older generations aren’t used to looking: on college campuses, like the Know Your IX movement and tuition equity campaigns for undocumented students, and inside activist movements like #BlackLivesMatter and #ByeAnita and #Occupy.

And now, increasingly, unions. ….

The Teacher Strikes Show That Workers Are Really, Finally, Fed Up

Source: Eillie Anzilotti, Fast Company, April 19, 2018

By walking out of their classrooms, U.S. teachers are part of a global uprising against low wages for the benefit of increasing corporate profits. ….

….Legislatures in more conservative states have granted tax cuts to corporations, which have constricted budgets. To balance the budgets, the things that get cut are salaries and benefits. In the private sector, there’s often a similar story: Companies keep salaries and benefits low–or outsource work to independent contractors who don’t get any benefits at all–in order to maximize profitability and return money to shareholders.

That leaves us, Orleck says, with a broad coalition of workers, both public and private sector, whose livelihoods have suffered for the benefit of corporations. And as the teachers’ strikes–and scores of labor strikes around the world–have shown, that system has reached its breaking point…..