By Mike MIller for Counterpunch. We need to build it. That will require talking with people who now don’t think the way present movement activists do; it will mean listening to them, and gaining their trust; developing relationships with them; engaging them in not only protesting but in becoming co-creators of the movement and organizations required to turn around the ship of empire that the U.S. has become. To imagine what this might look like, add a “0” to the numbers of people participating in what are now considered “mass actions”. And imagine them being sustained over a long period of time. And imagine already existing civic organizations (unions, congregations and others) growing in membership because of their involvement in the cause. And imagine new organizations being formed by people who now don’t have a continuing voice in civic affairs. And stretch your mind a little further to imagine permanent organizations being built that unite all these forces. That’s what “big organizing” would look like.
By Sam Gindin for The Bullet – The profound defeat of the U.S. labour movement over the past three to four decades is usually measured by the loss of things that workers once took for granted like decent wages and benefits. A less quantifiable but ultimately more decisive indicator is the retreat from possibilities. By extension, the labour movement’s renewal (or reinvention) is inseparable from reversing, through effective struggle, this lowering of expectations. Jane McAlevey captured this sentiment in the title of her first book, Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell), a memoir based on her experiences as a labour organizer.
By Bill Quigley for Popular Resistance – When you find yourself in a suddenly darkened room, what do you do? Some rush blindly to where they think the door might be. Others stand still, let their eyes get adjusted to the different environment, re-orient themselves, then cautiously and sensitively, move forward. Some search out people who might be able to show the way. Post-election, a lot of people are re-assessing and searching for the best way forward.
By Tomasz Frymorgen for Jacobin – Wildcat strikes in informal sectors are challenging unions’ assumptions about where and who to organize. On August 11, surrounded by 150 wildcatting Deliveroo drivers, a union activist read out a list of concessions won by British couriers, all of whom organized with the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) union. Courier workers won a 28 percent raise; CitySprint workers won 17 percent — their first in ten years. At Mach1, riders won higher pay, company-provided uniforms, and an end to equipment rental fees.
By Mike Elk for Pacific Standard – The striking thing about being a recent northern immigrant to the South is how often I walk into a bar and hear people talking about Bernie Sanders. As an outsider to the region (I’m a native of the East End of Pittsburgh), I sometimes find it incredible: Go into any bar in the South and all the young folks are feeling the Bern. While Sanders lost big in these states, he did win among southern Millennials — yet another indication that the South is changing a lot faster than some folks realize.
By Stephen Lerner and Saqib Bhatti for Inequality – Austerity, growing inequality, and the economic and political domination of billionaires, bankers, hedge funds, and giant corporations make the current moment ripe for birthing a movement that can radically transform the country and the world. This is a time of great peril, but also of extraordinary opportunity and—yes—reasons for hope. The last four decades have been characterized by unrelenting attacks on the working class, the weakening of unions and the financialization of capitalism.
By Nafeez Ahmed for Medium – I often get asked by people about what they can do to change things, to change the world, when each of us is just one person, in the face of so much that we cannot even hope to control or influence. What can we do? Why bother, given our powerlessness? As we look back on the key events of 2015, and the processes that led to them, it would be all too easy to succumb to despair. Despite fighting the ‘war on terror’ for 14 years since 9/11, we’ve only succeeded in seeing terrorism accelerate, metastasising into the so-called ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq and Syria.
By Michelle Chen for The Nation – After about eight years of seeing Main Street households get owned by Big Finance, front-line bank workers are now trying to reclaim Wall Street, branch by branch. In Los Angeles, where communities are still reeling from the financial crisis, front-line bank employees, and activists last week occupied the lobbies of Wells Fargo and Bank of America and demanded fair terms for the customers and the workforce. As we’ve reported previously, bank workers have been organizing to demand more equitable banking practices for those buying and selling some of the most lucrative financial products at the community level.
By Kenisha Potter-Stevenson for Moyers & Company – When I think of it, I get chill bumps. I never thought I’d see the day when so many women — of all backgrounds, but mostly women of color — would come together to make Mississippi a better place for ourselves, a better place for our children and a better place for our future. But that’s what we’re doing right now with the Mississippi Women’s Economic Security Initiative (MWESI) — a movement to push an agenda that was developed the old-fashioned way: by talking to people about the obstacles they face and then addressing the issues they are concerned with.
By David Moberg for In These Times – Encouraged by an energetic rally of more than 100 janitors and other members of Service Employees (SEIU) Local 1, a group of low-wage security, cleaning and passenger service workers at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport on Tuesday launched a campaign to organize 5,000 airport workers to win higher wages and the right to form a union without intimidation. The O’Hare organizing drive hopes, first, to bring the non-union workers at the airport into the Fight for $15 movement, initiated three years ago among fast food workers and, according to SEIU, already responsible for raising wages of 11 million workers. Then SEIU organizers hope to use the energy of that campaign for higher pay—and whatever success they have—to help create a union that can continue to defend and bargain for better working conditions.
By Kerry Taylor in Facing South. The city of North Charleston, South Carolina, has received strong praise for its handling of police officer Michael T. Slager’s fatal shooting of 50-year-old African American Walter Scott during an April 4 traffic stop. According to various media commentaries, the city’s quick response saved North Charleston from the outbreaks of vandalism and clashes with law enforcement that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri. At the local level, North Charleston’s response was shaped by the emergence of a decentralized network of political activists who have been organizing around progressive causes, including labor rights and economic justice, LGBTQ equality, and racial disparities in policing. This network of activists sprang into action just hours after Scott’s killing to offer a counter-narrative to the official version of events. They provided victims of police violence an outlet to express their pain and anger by organizing demonstrations, speak outs, and cultural events across the region. And they have carried out a range of protest activities aimed at securing reform. Their collective efforts at movement building, while diffuse and sometimes contradictory, represent an overlooked aspect of the Walter Scott story that has local political significance and strong national resonances.