Take Action

There are myriad ways to get involved in struggles for justice in the workplace, community, and beyond. Below I’ve listed some organizations and movements doing groundbreaking projects that model elements of the social movement unionism I describe in the final chapter of Beyond $15

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list! For brevity’s sake, I’ve not included some of the more mainstream and visible organizations that are doing good work, like Fight for $15 and the AFL-CIO. If you think I should include another group, please suggest it to me.

Labor Notes is a media and organizing project that describes itself as "the voice of union activists who want to put the movement back in the labor movement since 1979." What I like about Labor Notes is it's very hands-on and accessible for workers who are looking for the tools to fight injustice, in the workplace and the community. Check out especially the Labor Notes-published book, "Secrets of a Successful Organizer" and the Labor Notes online course, Beating Apathy.

The National Day Laborers Organizing Network, comprising  more than three dozen day laborer organizing centers around the US, is at the forefront of wrestling with the challenge of building worker power in the informal economy.

Based in Boston, City Life/Vida Urbana is a multi-racial coalition that fights for tenants rights and against displacement and foreclosures. CL/VU combines direct action, coalition building, education and advocacy to win for working class communities.

Interfaith Worker Justice is a national network of faith communities organized to fight for workers rights. Drawing on a wide range of religious tenets and traditions, IWJ members have been at the forefront of the fight against wage theft and other worker abuses. 

With roots in North Carolina, the Moral Mondays Movement offers a powerful fusion of direct action for workplace and civil rights with a faith-driven call for moral revival. Initiated in 2013 under the leadership of Reverend William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP, in response to state government attacks on worker, civil, and human rights, the Moral Mondays movement is spreading across the country. It represents one of the most advanced forms of social movement unionism that I sketch out in the final chapter of my book. Rev. Barber's book, The Third Reconstruction,  is a great blueprint for a new justice movement. 

Across the country, our public schools are being systematically starved of funding and pushed toward privatization by political leaders of both major parties. The Chicago Teachers Union, in alliance with parents and education groups, has led a militant, multi-year fight in defense of public education, offering important lessons about movement building and the fusion of workplace and community struggle.

Gig economy workers are in the early stages of experimenting with new forms of organizing. The Seattle App-Based Drivers Association, affiliated with the Teamsters union, is just one example of so-called "independent contract" workers creatively organizing to build power against the Wall Street-funded behemouths that are behind Uber and other technology companies. Key to these efforts is a focus on building durable power for workers - not just advocating for technocratic fixes that cushion the economic blow for workers but fail to challenge the power imbalance in worker-employer relations

In 2016, more than 50 Black organizations came together to produce the Vision for Black Lives statement- a sweeping and detailed critique of US capitalism along with a detailed set of demands for a just society. The V4BL statement recognizes that "We are a collective that centers and is rooted in Black communities, but we recognize we have a shared struggle with all oppressed people; collective liberation will be a product of all of our work."

In Chapter 9 of Beyond $15 I highlight the pivotal role that Kshama Sawant and her Socialist Alternative party played in Seattle's minimum wage campaign. As a national political organization, SA has sparked an important discussion in recent years about the need for independent political action by working people and allies

Published by Beacon Press

Edited by Joanna Green

Represented by Diana Finch

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