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Organize!

organize-iconWhether we are engaging in acts of resistance or creating new, alternative institutions, we need to create sustainable, democratic organizations that empower their members while also protecting against disruption. This section provides articles about effective organizing, creating democratic decision-making structures, building coalitions with other groups, and more. Visit the Resources Page for tools to assist your organizing efforts.

Brazil: Volunteer Brigades And Artists Fight Forest Fires And Deforestation

The frequency and extent of wildfires are increasing all over the world. In South America, Brazil has had the highest incidence of forest fires in recent years. In 2019, during the first year of Jair Bolsonaro’s government, fires in the Amazon made headlines around the world. For the first time on record, the smoke from the forest fires in the Amazon reached São Paulo, the largest city in South America, more than 1,600 miles to the southeast of the burned regions. And in 2020, one third of the Pantanal wetlands biome was burned (11 million acres), leaving an estimated wildlife death toll of over 17 million animals.  Despite the large fires of 2019 and 2020 associated with higher deforestation rates in the Amazon, the Brazilian government has not instituted any additional public policy to fight forest fires.

How A Small Town In Maine Stopped A Silver Mine

Pembroke, Maine — One May evening, residents packed into a Pembroke meeting room to decide the future of their town. On the agenda: Should Pembroke ban industrial metal mining? The coalition of farmers, environmentalists and retirees who had called the vote wasn’t sure what to expect. Pembroke, a town of fewer than 900, isn’t exactly a liberal stronghold — Donald Trump carried the county twice. But this was not a national election, and the mining threat was not abstract: In 2021, Canadian company Wolfden Resources unveiled plans to mine for silver uphill from the wells residents rely on for water and just 2 miles from the rich estuary of Cobscook Bay. Severine von Tscharner Fleming, one of the leaders of the grassroots effort to stop the mine, puts it this way: In Pembroke, “people are not all in the same part of the political spectrum, but our common ground is literally our common ground.”

Auto Workers Turn A Corner For Strike Pay And Democracy

Reformers in the Auto Workers won day one strike pay at the union’s constitutional convention in Detroit last week. They also forced open debate on the top concession that has weakened the union in the last 15 years—tiered contracts that condemn newer workers to lower pay and benefits beside “legacy” workers doing the same job. This was the first UAW convention since a leadership corruption scandal erupted, reformers won a member referendum last fall to adopt one-member-one-vote for top officers, and the auto industry began a serious transition to electric vehicles. Held every four years, the meeting has usually been a stale coronation of leaders. A newly organized reform movement turned the convention into a rowdy debate that, for moments, even overruled the top union leaders.

Western Sahara Will Be Liberated!

International institutions have failed the Sahrawi people. Over 100 resolutions adopted by the United Nations have recognized the Sahrawi peoples’ right to self-determination, to no effect. The International Court of Justice condemned Mauritania and Morocco’s claims to Western Saharan land as far back as 1975, but Morocco continues to occupy the land illegally. In 1991, the United Nations promised to hold a referendum on Western Saharan statehood, but that referendum has not yet come to pass. Today, some 200,000 Sahrawis live in conditions of violent occupation in Western Sahara. Another 200,000 live in refugee camps in Algeria near the Western Saharan border and in parts of Western Sahara under the control of the Polisario Front. A 2,700km wall with an estimated seven million landmines separates the two territories.

Evo Morales Calls For A Global Campaign To Eliminate NATO

In an interview with British journalist Matt Kennard at his home in El Trópico, a small town four hours from Cochabamba in the heart of the Amazon rain forest, former Bolivian president Evo Morales (2006-2019) called for an international campaign to eliminate NATO [the North Atlantic Treaty Organization]. According to Morales, this campaign should explain to people worldwide that “NATO is—ultimately—the United States. It is not a guarantee for humanity or for life. I do not accept—in fact, I condemn—how they can exclude Russia from the UN Human Rights Council. When the U.S. has intervened in Iraq, in Libya, in so many countries in recent years, why have they not been expelled from the Human Rights Council? Why was that never questioned?”

Massachusetts Trader Joe’s Becomes First To Unionize

Massachusetts - Workers at a Massachusetts Trader Joe's on Thursday voted to become the first of the supermarket chain's more than 500 locations to unionize, a historic development that comes amid a nationwide labor organizing wave. Employees at the Trader Joe's in Hadley, a suburb of Springfield, voted 45-31 to form a union, according to the National Labor Relations Board. "WE WON!!! Today, Trader Joe's Hadley became the first unionized Trader Joe's location, ever," the new union, Trader Joe's United, tweeted. "This victory is historic, but not a surprise. Since the moment we announced our campaign, a majority of the crew have enthusiastically supported our union, and despite the company's best efforts to bust us, our majority has never wavered."

Intersecting Movements For Housing Justice And Prison Abolition

Right to the City Alliance (RTTC) is a national alliance made up of over 90 member organizations on local, state, and regional levels organizing around housing and land. Our work includes renters’ rights, building alternatives such as community land trusts, and policy work like the opportunity for tenants to purchase buildings before small landlords sell them to bigger corporate landlords. RTTC connects members doing aligned work across the country to share strategies, best practices, and ways of scaling up strategies to expand impact beyond local contexts. Member organizations work on a range of social change issues, and the alliance is guided by values and principles that stand against state violence and policing. While RTTC is not explicitly focused on housing, our housing work is situated under the Homes for All campaign, where organizing for renters’ rights and community loan funds takes place.

Young Workers Are Bridging The Climate And Labor Movements

New momentum is buzzing through the North American labor movement, driven by the same age group which, across party affiliations and the urban-rural divide, has expressed majority-to-outsize support for advancing a climate policy overhaul with economic justice at its core. After ticking up slightly in 2020, the overall union membership rate in the United States fell back to where it’s been hovering the past few years, in 2021. But in spite of the stagnancy of other age groups, union membership among workers between 25 and 34 years old was on the rise, climbing from 8.8 percent in 2019 to a still-modest 9.4 percent in 2021. That bump does not account for the surge in union drives over the past eight months — including in the midst of this writing — many of which have been led by young workers.

Reviving Student Action And Strike Solidarity

The decade since the abolition of the university fee cap in 2012 has felt painfully long for staff and students. Universities are no longer fertile ground for public knowledge but an exercise in marketized competition, commodification and over-inflated managerialism. Accordingly, students are increasingly framed as consumers entrapped in swelling debt, while overworked academics are forced to dedicate more time to admin than to teaching or research. It’s not that the university sector is strapped for cash. With more than 2,500 managerial staff on six-figure salaries and the average vice chancellor raking in £250,000, students know exactly where their £9,000 a year is going. Moreover, with the decline in direct government funding and the near abolition of teaching and maintenance grants, universities are becoming bigger players in the finance sector.

Terminated Chipotle Workers Accuse Company Of Union Busting

Augusta, Maine - Workers who had hoped to form the first union at a Chipotle Mexican Grill believe the company closed their restaurant and terminated their jobs this week, because they were poised to form the first union among the chain’s 3,000 establishments. Chipotle closed its Augusta restaurant on Tuesday after two-thirds of its employees had pledged to form an independent union, Chipotle United, and just two-and-a-half hours before workers were scheduled to meet with the National Labor Relations Board about their union election. "They knew they would lose," Brandi McNease, who worked the Augusta restaurant for more than three years and led the union drive, said in an interview Friday. "I was just so angry. No. We had a fair fight going. We were doing things the right way, and you just took your bat and ball and went home?

Planned Parenthood Workers In Five States Unionize

Minneapolis, Minnesota - On July 21, 435 Planned Parenthood workers from Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska joined the Service Employees International Union, Healthcare Minnesota and Iowa (SEIU HCMN&IA) in a resounding 90.1% yes vote. 238 workers voted to join the union, and only 26 voted not to. The Planned Parenthood workers began working with organizers at SEIU HCMN&IA in early summer of 2021. Over the next year they built an organizing committee among their coworkers with workers from all five states represented on the committee and wide representation from the 28 locations involved. In May of 2022 they felt they finally had a strong enough organizing committee to move forward and began talking to coworkers and having them sign union cards committing to join the union.

UPenn Teamsters Defeat Two-Tier

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Teamsters Local 115 members at the University of Pennsylvania are celebrating a contract victory that eliminates two-tier pay for housekeepers, over the resistance of their own union officials. “In my 31 years here, this is the best contract I’ve seen,” said member Theresa Wible. “We haven’t seen raises like this since the ’80s, and I’ve never seen our union hall this packed.” The 550 campus Teamsters are mostly housekeepers, and 250 of them had been stuck on a permanent bottom tier. The five-year contract, ratified June 29, puts every Teamster at Ivy League UPenn on a progression to top pay. This year the first tier is making $25.12 an hour and the second tier is at $20.90, but by the end of the contract every housekeeper will get $28.68.

New Resource: The Tenant Power Toolkit

Helping each of us fight eviction and debt as individuals in the court system is crucial. But that is only the first part of what we can do together. Filing an answer to Unlawful Detainer or responding to a small claims lawsuit helps us respond to the system, but how can we change an unfair system? How can we change a system that evicts tenants who cannot file complicated legal papers within 5 days, but gives landlords online tools to evict from home? How can we change a system that allows landlords to ruin our credit over missed rent? With consent, we also want to connect users to tenant organizing across California, and eventually, connect users to others in their situation - neighbors; those who share landlords; those on rent strike. Why? Because if I am facing eviction or debt alone, my landlord has power over me.

UAW Delegates Head To Convention And Prepare For First Direct Elections

Auto Workers (UAW) members made history last November, winning direct elections of national officers (“one member, one vote”) in a membership referendum. Now delegates are headed to a Constitutional Convention where candidates will be nominated for the top slots. The whole process will put to the test whether reformers can break the iron grip of the Administration Caucus, the one party that has ruled the union for 70 years. Winning direct elections was the first hurdle. The next, formidable hurdles are: Will a credible slate of challengers form? Will a majority of members vote for change? And can new leaders and constitutional changes turn things around for the UAW? The election will cover 14 positions: president, secretary-treasurer, three vice presidents (traditionally assigned to each of the Big Three automakers: General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis, formerly Chrysler), plus nine regional directors.

Privatizing Medicare

Capping five decades of battle by the labor movement for federal healthcare for elders, Medicare was signed into law in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson. Funded by payroll taxes under Social Security, the new program provided comprehensive, low-cost care for retirees and the disabled. Medicare was part of the largest government domestic expansion since the depression-era New Deal. Shaken by civil rights protests, labor strikes and student anti-Vietnam war demonstrations, politicians responded with some valuable reforms. Medicare joined the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, federal aid for education and housing, Head Start programs and food stamp allotments as victories of the Civil Rights era. Medicare proved wildly popular. Most of organized labor and virtually all organizations of seniors supported it. Adults no longer faced bankruptcy paying for medical care.
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