Category Archives: Organizing

Teachers Fighting for Public Schools Were Key to the Uprising in Puerto Rico

Source: Mercedes Martinez and Monique Dols, Labor Notes, August 15, 2019

In the two months leading up to the uprising which ousted Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Roselló, educators celebrated hard-fought victories against the privatization of their education system. Struggles by teachers and families against school closures and charter schools helped pave the way for July’s unprecedented outpouring of protest (see box).

By the end of the school year in June, it became clear that the struggle to stop charterization had largely won. There is only one actively functional charter school on the island.

Then in July, teachers and families who had fought pitched battles against the closing of 442 public schools by ex-Secretary of Education Julia Keleher were vindicated when Keleher was arrested on corruption charges.

As the new school year starts in August, educators are still fighting to fully fund and staff the schools, reopen those shuttered under Keleher, and keep the charters out. In the weeks and months to come, expect educators to keep playing a critical role in the struggle for democracy, against austerity, and for the dignity of the working class in Puerto Rico….

Know Your Members: Assessing the Bargaining Unit for Internal Organizing

Source: Steward Update, Vol. 30 no. 3, 2019
(subscription required)

To get a good contract, pass pro-labor legislation, support charities and community groups or just get one supervisor to stop harassing union members, unions need to do something called “mobilization.” Mobilization is a systematic effort to get members and other to act as a group in taking action – fill out a bargaining survey, lobby their elected officials, join an anti-cancer walk-a-thon, or challenge a supervisor.

A key part of getting members in motion is having a strong connection between union leadership and membership. Stewards who regularly share information from leaders with their members and communicate members’ concerns to leaders are the most important part of any effort to harness member power to make positive change. To perform this role well, stewards need to maximize their relationship with each member. ….

See Where Teachers Got Pay Raises This Year – Protests across the country swayed governors to push for salary bumps

Source: Daarel Burnette II & Madeline Will, Education Week, Vol. 38 Issue 36, Published in Print: June 19, 2019

More than a year after teachers across the country began walking out of their classrooms en masse to demand higher salaries, at least 15 states have given their teachers a raise.

And lawmakers in several more states are putting the final touches on plans to raise teacher salaries, according to an Education Week analysis…..

….Here’s what you need to know about each state’s plan (as of June 17) to raise teacher pay. (The average teacher salary for each state reflects the National Education Association’s estimate for the 2018-19 school year, which would not include these raises.)

Click a state in the dropdown to jump to that section: ….

Fostering Civic Health: An Analysis of the Generative and Mediating Activities of Community-Based Organizations

Source: Kandyce Fernandez, Robbie Robichau, Jennifer Alexander, The American Review of Public Administration, OnlineFirst, Published June 19, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Civic engagement in U.S. political life has declined since the 1950s resulting in a deluge of studies that explore its causes and implications. Research to date has directed little attention to the institutional role of associations as the foundation for civic engagement in all of its forms. This article utilizes institutional theory as a lens to examine the ways in which community-based organizations (CBOs), in tandem with local government, foster civic engagement, and enhance representation in their communities. Through interview data obtained from stakeholders of 18 local education foundations (LEFs) in Florida, we examine the ways in which CBOs nurture civic health with client communities (generative role) and represent their interests in local policy arenas (mediating role). Based on the results of this initial study, we argue that greater attention should be directed to the relationships between CBOs and measures of civic health given their unique capacity to foster it. Results indicate the relationship between generative and mediating activities is such that CBOs’ engagement with client communities establishes the foundational knowledge necessary for representing their interests in the interorganizational arena. In addition, CBOs were found to establish both bridging and bonding capital in the interorganizational arena through their efforts to exert influence on behalf of client communities.

“Left-Wing Haters and Angry Mobs”: Primers for the Trump Resistance

Source: Patrick Dixon, Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, Vol. 16 no. 2, May 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The results of the 2016 election presented a crisis for American progressives that has given birth to a new genre of popular nonfiction literature focused on resistance to the Trump administration. These primers seldom consider labor to be an important element of resistance, and while they include many policy prescriptions, these are often lacking in imagination and ambition. This genre is nonetheless an instructive source, offering a historical snapshot that reveals the fissures and dilemmas facing the American Left in the early days of the Trump presidency.

Supermajority Founder Ai-jen Poo Says the Massive New Activist Network Wants to Connect Women Organizers

Source: Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, May 1, 2019

A massive network of women activists across the country — that’s the vision of the new activist org Supermajority and its leadership, which is a dream team of organizers. Former Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, Black Lives Matter Global Network co-founder Alicia Garza, and National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) director Ai-Jen Poo are just three of the women helming the group named for the fact that women are a majority of the country’s electorate.

“Women are marching, running for office, donating to, and advocating for causes and campaigns, and voting in record numbers. We can be the most powerful force in America — if we do the work together,” the group, which launched April 29, says on its website. “We’re building a Supermajority of women [and everyone who shares our values!] who are organizing for gender equity.”

The leadership behind the group is a who’s who of powerful women. Aside from Poo, Garza, and Richards, there’s Deirdre Schifeling of Planned Parenthood’s Action Fund; Jess Morales Rocketto of the NDWA, Care in Action, and Families Belong Together; and NYU professor Katherine Grainger of Civitas Public Affairs Group.

The Future of Unions Is White-Collar

Source: Bret Schulte, Atlantic, April 12, 2019

Blue-collar jobs are disappearing. But a powerful new wave of organized labor is taking its place. ….

…. At the University of Arkansas, where I work and serve as president of AFSCME Local 965, union membership has about doubled in recent years. Although the local was started by the university’s maintenance crew in the 1960s, nearly every new member has been a professor or professional employee. Their concerns: campus safety, a living wage for all employees, collective bargaining rights, and gaining more influence over campus policies. ….

…. One reason for the shift is the evolution of the American economy. Manufacturing jobs have disappeared as service jobs have increased. That means fewer opportunities for blue-collar workers to join unions if they wanted to. (And employers don’t want them to.)

The professional class is by no means offsetting the country’s net loss of union members, but how the newbies are behaving shows they understand exactly how collective action is supposed to work: They’re leaving their manners at home and making demands. It was kindly teachers in rural West Virginia who flexed their muscle in a strike that put the country on notice—kind of like the textile workers in 1912, but without smashing any windows. ….