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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.

Challengers Win Big in UAW Elections; Presidency Headed To Run-Off

What is the mood at United Auto Workers headquarters today? Day drinking? Shopping for retirement condos? Dunning staff for money to try desperately to win the run-off? Shredding documents? Reformers in the United Auto Workers are jubilant as they seem set to make a historic change in the top leadership of their union, ending 70 years of one-party top-down rule. As mail-ballot votes were counted this week, it appeared very possible that the UAW Members United slate would eventually take all seven of the seats it contested, out of 14 on the union’s executive board. This is nothing short of an earthquake in one of the country’s largest manufacturing unions. The last time anyone was elected to the executive board in opposition to the ruling Administration Caucus was 34 years ago, when Jerry Tucker of the New Directions Movement became a regional director.

China To Run United Nations Biodiversity Conference

As the world parses what was achieved at the U.N. climate change conference in Egypt, negotiators are convening in Montreal to set goals for curbing Earth’s other crisis: loss of living species. Starting on Dec. 7, 196 nations that have ratified the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity will hold their 15th Conference of the Parties, or COP15. The convention, which was adopted at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, is designed to promote sustainable development by protecting biodiversity — the variety of life on Earth, from genes up to entire ecosystems. Today, experts widely agree that biodiversity is at risk. Because of human activities – especially overhunting, overfishing and altering land — species are disappearing from the planet at 50-to-100 times the historic rate. The United Nations calls this decline a “nature crisis.”

Ten Years Later, The Fight For $15 And A Union Continues

On Nov. 29, 2012, over 100 fast food workers in New York City walked off the job to demand that their wages be increased to $15 an hour and to finally have a voice in their workplaces through union representation. That walkout was the beginning of a movement—a movement that articulated and emerged out of the need for human dignity and democracy in the workplace; a movement that has forcefully asserted that highly profitable industries dominated by multi-billion and multi-million dollar corporations can afford to pay their workers a living wage and allow workers to safely voice their concerns and address issues that impact them and their work. Out of those worker-led demonstrations a decade ago the Fight for $15 and a Union was born, a global campaign pushing to increase wages and improve working conditions for workers in low-wage jobs, from the fast food industry to retail.

Every Union Contract Right Now Should Be The Best Ever

If your union goes into negotiations right now and doesn’t win its biggest raise ever, you’re leaving money on the table. Soaring inflation means it takes a bigger raise just to break even. And with unemployment low, labor has extra leverage to win more. Dining hall workers at Northeastern University in Boston just approved a new contract that will raise them to $30 an hour by 2026—triple the $9 they were making in 2012 before they unionized. After a rowdy mass picket, Sysco food delivery Teamsters in Massachusetts won a 39 percent raise over five years. Here in Seattle, Providence Swedish hospital workers just won their largest-ever economic package, with two-year raises of 21.5 percent or $6.50, whichever is more. (They structured it that way so the lowest-paid workers don’t get the lowest raise.) These are just a few of many examples.

How Akka’s Palestinians Fought Back Against Israel’s Mass Arrest Campaign

“It is very hard that my son is far away and separated from me. I feel it is an injustice, and nothing is harder than for a mother to feel that her son is oppressed.” These were the words of Umm Haitham Ali, the mother of a convicted 27-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel from Akka who has been incarcerated for a year and a half, and whose life has been overshadowed by turbulent events that unfolded in the city in May 2021. During that month, Akka (known in Hebrew as “Akko” and in English as “Acre”) like other localities, was consumed by a Palestinian uprising that spread between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and which was met with a large-scale campaign of Israeli repression. In so-called “mixed cities” like Akka — historically Palestinian centers that acquired large Jewish populations through forced expulsion and gentrification since the Nakba of 1948 — protesters took to the streets to demonstrate, while gangs and mobs vandalized property and attacked residents of other national groups.

Tanzanian Farmers Mobilize For Agroecology, Food Sovereignty And Pan-Africanism

Hundreds of smallholder farmers gathered in the city of Morogoro on November 17 and 18 for the 27th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Mtandao wa Vikundi vya Wakulima Tanzania or the National Network of Small-Scale Farmers Groups in Tanzania (MVIWATA).  The organization was founded in 1993 by self-organized farmers in the wake of the country’s first Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) under the IMF and the World Bank between 1986 to 1989. The neoliberal reforms ushered in during this period marked an absolute departure from Tanzania’s centrally-planned economy under socialist president and leading anti-colonial figure Julius K. Nyerere. In 1967, Nyerere issued the Arusha Declaration, committing Tanzania to the principles of socialism and self-reliance and paving the way for nationalization of key industries and the collectivization of agriculture. 

Southern Service Workers Launch A New Union

Columbia, South Carolina - Hundreds of service workers from across the South gathered in Columbia, South Carolina, November 17-19 to launch the Union of Southern Service Workers (USSW), taking their fight to a new level. The new organization grows out of the Raise Up, the Southern branch of the Fight for $15 and a Union, a movement backed by Service Employees International Union (SEIU). In addition to fast food, members work in hotels, gas stations, retail, home care, sit-down restaurants, and more. Some of these workers have been organizing their industries for a decade with Raise Up—fighting for higher wages and better working conditions. Others have only recently joined the effort—including many who felt that the pandemic exposed how essential their work was, and how little corporations and politicians valued them.

Philly Immigrant Workers Organize To Change The Restaurant Industry

The first time Yuris Reyes asked for paid sick leave, she was turned down. “My bosses told me that paid sick leave was only for the managers and not something I was entitled to,” says the Philadelphia restaurant worker. That didn’t sound right to Yuris, who is a member of El Comité de Trabajadorxs de Restaurante (the Restaurant Workers Committee), a local advocacy group. She filed an anonymous complaint about her employer with the city of Philadelphia, which has had a paid sick leave law on the books since 2015. The next time she was ill and needed a leave, Yuris showed her employers a link to the relevant city law. “I had fever-like symptoms and I called out sick. When I came back, I was paid for all my sick time, without an issue in my next check.

How The Pandemic Changed The Landscape Of US Labor Organizing

The story of essential workers during the pandemic is part of the long unraveling of the New Deal. The destruction of the welfare state, the attack on unions, and the rise of neoliberalism provide the historical backdrop for the pandemic labor unrest. As workers’ fortunes came under renewed attack in the early 1970s, the historic gains of the New Deal were rolled back decades. Inequality became the defining feature of our economy as we arrived at a second Gilded Age. This was more than unfair — during the pandemic it had deadly consequences. A 2020 study found that in over 3,000 U.S. counties, income inequality was associated with more cases and more deaths by the virus.

Courier Class War, With Antonio Solis

Well, originally it was Ligia Guallpa, the director of the Worker’s Justice Project, who helped us start organizing in the streets. We met her at a march, and she started to talk to us about the power we could have by organizing. And that’s what we’ve been figuring out little by little. We have big WhatsApp groups where we communicate with all of our comrades, we have the Los Deliveristas Unidos Facebook page, we have GPS groups, and radio groups. We have a lot of tools to organize ourselves and take care of each other out here in the streets. Early on, we began to organize ourselves. We had a small group here of fellow workers, friends, and acquaintances that came from the same part of Mexico, and we started to organize because we were having issues with crime.

Bronx Physician Residents Announce Supermajority Of Votes To Unionize

The Bronx, New York - Montefiore medical residents in the Bronx announced that they reached 70 percent of votes among the 1,200 residents and fellows to unionize with the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR). Montefiore is one of the largest employers in the Bronx and among the 50-largest employers in New York State. Montefiore residents have been organizing a union for the past year, announcing it publicly on November 1. There has been an increase in unionization among thousands of residents, who work as many as 80 hours weekly. Dr. Noa Nessim, a third-year Family Medicine resident and union organizer, denounced healthcare worker shortages in the Bronx and in the nation more broadly.

Mexico’s Independent Union Movement: Overview Of Victories And Challenges

Mexico - The labor regime of the neoliberal period in Mexico is in full decline. It was already a degeneration of the successful corporatist system, a one-party political structure in which the state controlled the unions under the long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party. Unions not only became state dependent under the PRI's corporatist system, but also entered a social pact with corporations to suppress wages and labor strife through “protection contracts,” so named because they protect employers from genuine worker organizing. This corporatist system was in full swing from the 1930s through the 1960s, when the Mexican economy grew rapidly—the fastest in Latin America—and workers organized in national industrial unions and confederations like the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM), the Revolutionary Confederation of Workers and Peasants (CROC), and the Regional Confederation of Mexican Workers (CROM) were rewarded with relatively good salaries and conditions.

President Maduro Calls For Summit In Defense Of The Amazon

On Saturday, November 5, the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, announced the proposal for a South American summit in defense of the Amazon rainforest. Upon his arrival in Egypt to participate in the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), President Maduro said that he discussed the issue with his Colombian counterpart, Gustavo Petro, and the president-elect of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. “We have proposed to Petro and Lula to soon hold a South American summit in defense of the Amazon and to reactivate the Defense Treaty Organization to make concrete proposals so that humanity and governments commit to finance the recovery of that region,” he explained.

Chicago Teachers: Notes From A Fighting Union

When I stepped down as Chicago Teachers Union president earlier this year (the union has a dynamic new officer team led by Stacy Davis Gates), I did it partly because I was ready for a change, partly to make room at the top, and partly because I think we need a reckoning about the direction of the labor movement. Stepping down gives me a chance to write and speak out without the constant and overwhelming work of running a 26,000-person local. This article is the first in what I hope will be a series in which I share some of the insights CTU learned through our struggles. The Chicago Teachers Union gets a lot of attention among the people who make up the fighting wing of the labor movement—for our high-profile strikes over the past decade and our unapologetic, anti-racist critique of what’s wrong with our schools and our society.

UFCW Reformers Look To 2023

Next April, 1,200 delegates from the Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) will gather in Las Vegas for the union’s international convention. A new reform group, Essential Workers for a Democratic UFCW, is gearing up for a fight. The group describes itself as a coalition of rank and filers, local leaders, and not-yet-union workers. Drawing inspiration from the caucuses that have recently won landmark reforms in the Teamsters and Auto Workers, it is pushing for change in three areas: union democracy, new organizing, and coordinated bargaining. The reform group is encouraging rank-and-file supporters to run for convention delegate on its platform. The effort has its strongest public backing from the union’s largest local: Local 3000, formed this year by merging Locals 21 and 1439.
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