Organizing Upgrade

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This article is a shortened adaptation of an on-going discussion within the 99% Power/99% Spring group, known for mobilizing the largest number of shareholder actions in recent history in the spring of 2012.

Organizing around the transformation of the economy means organizing around the transformation of work. And that necessarily means organizing workers into new forms of collective bargaining. Worker organizing updated to the 21st century means winning rights, respect, and a contract from the 1%.

Corporations, the vehicles of wealth generation in this country, are just that: vehicles. It’s the people who run them we need to contend with to shift power in this country. Fewer people than ever before are controlling the lives of more workers than ever before. Our slogan should be “we are the 99.9%”—it’s the 0.1% that control workers’ lives and the economy.

Published in Labor



In 1968, New York teachers went on strike in the Ocean Hill-Brownsville School District in Brooklyn after a dozen teachers and six administrators were unilaterally dismissed. The school district was established by the New York City Department of Education as an experiment in community control in the mostly African American neighborhood.

The locally elected school board dismissed the teachers, who were white, for their hostility to community control. The teachers union (United Federation of Teachers, or UFT), struck schools across Ocean Hill-Brownsville, demanding the teachers be rehired. The strike spread across the entire city and lasted about two months until the New York State Education Commission trusteed the Ocean Hill-Brownsville school district, rehired the teachers, and took control over the school.

Published in Labor
Friday, 31 August 2012 00:00

Priscila get some Love from Labor

Steve and Ben at Atlanta rally

We are riding a 1972 MCI Challenger bus in our journey across the southwestern and southeastern part of the United States.  This bus, who came baptized with the name ‘Priscila’ has been used in organizing tours mostly on climate justice issues.  Inside she is more like an RV, with benches, a small kitchen and even bunk beds in the back.

Published in Marisa Franco

Organizing Upgrade interviewed two New York union members about their experiences working with Occupy Wall Street.

Interview with David Martinez, art handler and mover at Sotheby’s auction house in New York City, and member of Teamsters Local 804.

Sotheby’s workers were locked-out from their jobs at Sotheby’s in August 2011, just before Occupy Wall Street began. Throughout the fall, a group of supporters and Occupy activists got involved in activities to support the locked-out workers. Unfortunately, the lock-out continues.

Published in Leftist at Work
Tuesday, 26 June 2012 00:00

Feminism at Work

Rosie-The-Riveter-Dies-500x660I have been a committed feminist since early in life, but these politics were reinvigorated when I began working as a technician in a predominantly male workplace. Being a feminist in theory is much different than being a feminist when some guy is shaking the 18-foot extension ladder you are working on; it requires a different relationship to your goals.

In my early years, though I did face real material struggles, my feminism was largely ideological. For me it took place in arguments and was often about being right. In my work as a rank-and-file activist, my socialist feminism has become more defined and concrete. It is about building solidarity among my coworkers which is not only “right” but also actively builds the kind of solidarity it takes to enforce and reproduce socialist-feminist politics.

Published in Leftist at Work

American Football, when it was first “officially” played in 1869 (Rutgers v. Princeton), was a completely different sport.  For one, players were not well-padded, not-at-all-helmeted, and rules to protect their health and safety were lax at best.  Games were glorified slugfests, but generally each team had a shot at winning, bruises and scars par for the course.

Now imagine the 1869 Rutgers team playing against the present-day Scarlet Knights football program, or perhaps even the championship New York Giants.  It would be more than an uneven match-up—the outcome would be brutal, if not deadly.

Published in Labor

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Organizing Upgrade 2012 / Built by Union Labor