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Building long-lasting grassroots power requires centering concrete issues and the humanity of individuals you’re organizing. Many organizations in West Virginia are cultivating organizers, building organizations that can sustainably organize local communities according to their needs for years to come, incorporating mutual aid, and more, in an effort to win and wield political power. In this article, The Forge contributor Mat Hanson discussed organizational strategies with multiple people involved in grassroots power building in West Virginia: Katey Lauer, co-chair of West Virginia Can’t Wait; Nicole McCormick, a founding member of the West Virginia United caucus and rank-and-file leader in the successful teacher’s strike; Dr. Shanequa Smith of Restorative Actions and the Black Voters Impact Initiative; and Joe Solomon, the co-founder and co-director of Solutions Oriented Addiction Response (SOAR), a volunteer-based organization that advocates for harm-reduction strategies to the opioid crisis.
Understanding the geography and profit-making process of any big corporation are essential to organizing against it. In the case of organizing against Amazon, it has certainly been strategic to organize labor union(s) at the traditional worker level. However, there have also been labor-community alliances built to organize against Amazon, given the way that the megacorporation affects communities beyond its own workers, by its supports of the carceral state and deportation machine, contributions to climate change, and its role in gentrification. The many different people and groups (especially based on where they are located geographically and their role in the economy) impacted by any bad actor (in this case, Amazon) are where any organizing opportunities exist. And understanding the “value chain” of any target (like Amazon) is necessary to understanding what leverage any organized group of people can have. This article details some cases of groups and coalitions building power against Amazon.
New and expanded federal programs can deliver good jobs and environmental benefits. A centerpiece of Joe Biden’s presidency to date is the “Build Back Better Agenda,” a historic multi-faceted plan to rebuild the nation’s economy to be stronger, cleaner, more equitable, and resilient. That agenda—first encompassed in the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan—further manifested in the form of two important pieces of legislation. The first, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL)—also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)—is a $1.2 trillion investment in repairing and modernizing the nation’s infrastructure that was signed into law on November 15, 2021. Notable provisions in the bill include: the largest federal investment in public transit in history; the largest federal investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak; the largest dedicated bridge investment since the creation of the interstate highway system; the largest investment in clean drinking water and wastewater infrastructure ever; the expansion of high-speed internet access; the largest investment in clean energy transmission and EV infrastructure in history; robust funding to reclaim abandoned mine lands; the expansion of the electric school and transit bus fleet; and new funding and authorities to build a more climate-resilient and efficient electric grid.
Many people communicating for social change are exploring how to tell diverse and inclusive stories that center marginalized communities while building understanding about how inequality persists. Intersectionality is an important tool to help us tell great stories that help us understand systemic issues. Five guiding principles to telling intersectional stories: Show, don’t tell; Provide historical context; Uplift the voices of marginalized people; Tell whole stories; and, Radically reimagine the world.
There are six key steps to executing the best “one-on-one” conversation—specific to a union organizing setting, but potentially applicable to other settings. Step One: Discover the issues—ask open-ended questions to understand the problems the worker cares most about. Step Two: Agitate—ask provocative questions about the frustrations expressed by the worker. Step Three: Elucidate—provide your worker with alternatives, such as enhancing worker power with a union. Step Four: Make an “ask”—before assuming you will be rejected, ask the worker to take a concrete action. Step Five: Innoculate—prepare the worker for the toxic arguments that the boss will give in fighting union power. Step Six: Follow up—check in after the conversation to try to ensure consistent communication and action.
This series chronicles the Fight for 15 organizing campaigns in various U.S. cities and states over the past few decades. Examples include Detroit, Chicago, and Seattle. Various articles and interviews—written by different authors—describe the history of organizing efforts, policy goals, and organizing strategies behind both victories and losses. Multiple articles focus on the successful Florida 2020 minimum wage ballot question campaign—particularly the role of workers on the campaign, digital and communications GOTV tactics, and what overall lessons leftists and progressives can take away.
- A broad majority (69%) of New Yorkers support levying a tax on corporate polluters, where the revenue (estimated $15 billion raised per year) would be used to invest in new renewable energy projects, community sustainability initiatives, and fossil fuel workers impacted by the transition to clean energy.
- Support for specific investments is also high:
- 65% support investing funds in large-scale renewable energy projects, like offshore wind farms and mass transit overhauls
- 63% support investing in low-income communities and communities of color to improve their climate resiliency and sustainability
- 73% support investing in programs for workers and communities impacted by the transition away from coal, oil, and gas
This interactive webinar covered the process of how this collaboration between environmental justice and labor forces was facilitated, how they built a shared vision around resilience, a rundown of the report's key findings, and a guided activity for how to apply the report's insights to participants' local communities and organizing work.
California and the US are increasingly beset by climate-fueled disasters like wildfires, extreme heat, and power blackouts. These events put additional stress on frayed hard and social infrastructure systems, and disproportionately impact working-class communities of color. To adapt to these changes, society must update our notion of disaster response to increase resilience in these systems before disasters strike. This report offers two models for this response: 1) building and normalizing resilience hubs where community members gather and organize both in good times and bad, and 2) increasing in-home resilience by recognizing homecare workers as effective agents for assisting vulnerable populations and bridging authorities and the frontlines. The report goes on to recommend specific ways to set up resilience hubs, train care workers, and develop forward-thinking emergency response plans to avert human disasters after natural disasters.