Festival of Resistance

Organising for Power & Winning

Organising for Power & Winning Jane McAlevey

Jane McAlevey is an author, union & community organiser, who has, over 30 years, developed a tried and tested method for successful organising in the work place, electioneering and community campaigns. Now, more than ever, we need to develop our skills from activists, into effective organisers to challenge the big issues that we are facing. With looming austerity, rent arrears, job losses, food poverty, homelessness etc. Jane shows us, in this video, how we can overcome barriers to WIN!

Jane McAlevey says: “For most of my adult life, I’ve been designing and running actual experiments in social change, carefully testing and retesting key hypotheses. The experiments, the best of which come in the form of large scale campaigns with clear “win” or “lose” outcomes, cut across and through and unite often disparate single-issue silos that constitute so much of the US progressive movement. After 30 years of campaigns, there’s no question for me that good unions are the best solution to most problems.”

To win, it’s crucial that we heed advice from union organizer Nato Green. In a recent article about how public service unions like the one he works for, local SEIU 1021 in California, can — and must — negotiate for climate justice, he wrote, “Any seasoned union campaigner worth her salt loves a contract fight because it has a hard deadline that focuses everyone’s attention—expiration and a strike threat. Climate science gives us a new deadline and an opportunity to show that we’re up to the task. We have 12 years.”

Green is certainly right that good union organizers love a contract fight. If we take the twelve years outlined in the recent IPCC report as our deadline for drastically cutting carbon emissions, what’s a credible plan to win by 2030?

For people serious about winning really hard fights — and there are virtually none more difficult than tackling the fossil fuel industry — making a plan starts by doing comprehensive power structure analysis and building a real war room. This is indeed a war, one that so far has been won by the Koch brothers and their ilk. Our side needs to get used to the military language because what we’ve been doing — being polite and going to big orderly marches — isn’t saving the planet or creating a fair and just economy, and it’s wishful thinking to imagine otherwise. War rooms are physical spaces where people with necessary experience and fortitude brainstorm, plot, and plan what it will take to win. They plan backwards from the world as it actually exists, facing the challenge of organizing a set of messy actors who are too easily divided-and-conquered and too infrequently able to hold the focus on that which unites us — which is much more than survival.

The climate war room discussion will need to deal with a key reality: We are now stuck with courts that will rule against the planet and workers for another thirty to forty years. People in the US don’t yet feel the reality of losing the Supreme Court to the right wing, because the newly solidified majority hasn’t yet had time to overturn everything that it eventually will.

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