Blog post

Jane McAlevey on organizing, post-election

Molly Osberg 8 November 2012

A few nights ago, the American left ushered in another four years of Obama with a rather quiet—and perhaps fatalistic—sigh of relief. If nothing else the 2012 election was a good one for labor, most notably in California, where public sector workers beat back Prop 32 and wrestled $6 billion worth of budget cuts to education and public service into a series of tax increases for the wealthy. But Jane McAlevey, author of Raising Expectations (And Raising Hell) argues in the video above that it's the internal battles, far more than those taking place in the ballot box, that demand labor organizers' attention.

The tenacious, twenty-year veteran of environmental and labor justice movements was recently interviewed by GRITtv's Laura Flanders, whom she tells:

There's not enough radical political education taking place inside of America's unions. If there's one thing we have to do differently, it's trust that our rank-and-file members can handle a lot of information … real facts, real information, whats really happening. It's participatory radical education—you know, Frierean style.

It's that emphasis on relationship building between organizers and rank-and-file union members that characterizes McAlvey's controversial approach to growing union support—and healthy unions. That demand, she tells Flanders, exists no matter who's Head of State:

During the election period it's gotta be that everything we're doing is additive, it's building towards getting ready to ready to launch serious fights the minute the election is over. And i don't care if it's Obama ... If we're organizers, how are we building for the long haul? ... Democratic or Republican, we have to fight like hell to get an agenda in.

Visit GRITtv to view the interview in full. Raising Expectations will be published on November 20th.