Posted June 23, 2008
[This page compiles selections from the pamphlet Radicals at Work – click to visit main page]
From Campus Activist to Teamster Rank-and-File Leader
I first got interested in the labor movement as a college student, where it became clear to me that our society can never be truly democratic as long as its political and economic life are dominated by undemocratic corporations. And that, as human beings, we can never know real democracy as long as one-third of our lives are spent in workplaces that are organized on a totalitarian basis. (If the word totalitarianism seems too strong here, ask yourself when was the last time a corporate decision was made by a vote of the workforce, not by a CEO.)
I dropped out of school, tired of professors who thought they were changing the world with ideas that had no ties to any political action.
I went to a training program sponsored by the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute. But I flunked. They told me that I didn’t have what it took to be an organizer. I tried salting for a local union organizing drive, but the drive fizzled.
I heard about the ongoing struggle in the Teamsters union between reform activists from Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) and old-guard officials. I decided to get a job as a rank-and-file Teamster.
The local union I joined was a corrupt and closed-door operation. The officials were constantly cutting backroom deals with employers, and they treated the members with contempt. The first fight I was involved in started when management violated seniority and gave our shop steward the foreperson position because she was a friend of the supervisor. After we filed a grievance and won based on the clear contract language, our own union officials worked with management to find a way around the contract by making our shop steward a temporary assistant supervisor. Members were mad and wanted her out as the steward. I ran for the position and won.
We slowly started building a reform caucus. At first, we were limited to just our one shop. We started publishing a newsletter that aired members’ grips and informed people about what was happening on the job. Over time, we became a local-wide group as we made contact with members from other bargaining units. We started to publish a newsletter about local-wide issues, and began helping members from different shops to become stewards, enforce their contracts, and prepare for contract bargaining.
We organized campaigns to reform our local union bylaws. We succeeded in winning changes that made our local union president more accountable to the executive board, and we shortened officers’ terms from five years to three.
Our officers got caught embezzling union funds and our local was placed in trusteeship by the International Union. By removing the worst elements of the old leadership and making cosmetic reforms, the trusteeship neutralized some of the support we had from members who just wanted a cleaner union. Our challenge has become to convince members that our grassroots approach will make our union not just cleaner, but stronger when it comes to taking on management.
Being in TDU has given me a chance to link the activism in my local to similar work happening throughout our union. Our statewide TDU chapter brings together Teamsters from about half a dozen different local unions.
The chapter holds educational conferences and workshops where we share strategies and build our organizing skills. These conferences, and national TDU conventions, play an important role in developing the leadership skills of TDU activists who spread our organizing tactics and vision to members in our shops and locals.
Our TDU chapter has played an important role in key Teamster struggles. During the national strike in the freight industry in 1994, old-guard officials in our area refused to distribute the strike bulletins produced by the reform leadership then in power at the International Union. We filled the gap by passing out the strike information at freight barns and keeping strike lines strong.
During the 1997 UPS strike, local old-guard officials again boycotted national strike activities. Our chapter sponsored rallies and involved UPS workers in leafleting the public at sporting events, picketing UPS trucks and visiting customers.
Our chapter also functions as the statewide campaign organization for reform candidates for local and International office. We campaign at worksites, tour candidates, and organize phone banks. The majority of Teamsters in my state have voted for reform candidates in the last two national elections, something that never would have happened without TDU.
TDU builds the strength of our union on many fronts, from contract enforcement to strikes to reform campaigns for union office. We have an impact that far outweighs our numbers. TDU activity touches hundreds of thousands of members nationwide, but our own organization is held together by a relatively small core of activists. In my state, a steering committee of 15 plans chapter activities. An even smaller group of a half dozen or so holds that committee together. TDU is a place where a committed activist can make a huge difference.
Only a few of us in my TDU chapter would describe themselves as being on the left. TDU is about promoting activism that is grassroots, more than “radical.” It’s about building people’s sense of their own power. In my experience, Teamster members who have never been part of collective action tend to see the union as something distant and irrelevant. But once a group of workers have participated in a struggle together, they begin to look at things differently. The conventional wisdom that “You can’t beat city hall” has less bit.
The author is a member of Teamsters for a Democratic Union.
A Labor/Community Alliance for “Jobs with Justice”
In 1987, 11,000 union members gathered in Miami to support striking Eastern Airlines workers as an answer to the call for “Jobs with Justice” put out by the leadership of several manufacturing and service sector unions. The demonstration of solidarity against the Reagan-Bush era attack on working people hardly matched the media image of the pale, male, and stale labor bureaucracy. And a new coalition was born.
From the start, Jobs with Justice (JwJ) demanded class-wide unity. Workers at the Miami rally filled out the trademark blue membership cards pledging to “be there” for someone else’s struggle five times in the next year.
Since then, JwJ has grown into a national community-labor collation with chapters in 40 cities around the country. Though initially controlled centrally through the AFL-CIO bureaucracy, today JwJ is characterized by the autonomy of local chapters. A minority of local coalitions continues to be tightly controlled by labor bureaucrats, but most offer many avenues for rank-and-file workers to participate in working-class struggles. The most successful JwJ chapters are models for militant and democratic participation by rank-and-file activists.
Jobs with Justice is distinguished by three key contributions: first, the aggressive and consistent use of direct action; second, the successful building of bridges between unions and community-based organizations, especially in communities of color; and, third, the will to fight for forward-looking issues such as national health care and the rights of welfare recipients to organize into unions. Workers and activists in local coalitions have helped to organize thousands of people into unions, won Living Wage initiatives, joined with students in anti-sweatshop campaigns, and created bridges between immigrant communities and the labor movement.
My own experience with Jobs with Justice began in 1996, while I was a community organizer in Providence, Rhode Island. My organization, Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE), was made up of working poor and unemployed Black and Latino folks, many of whom have never been in unions. Members of DARE had walked many picket lines supporting union members, but just as often encountered racist and backward practices from the police and teachers unions. DARE viewed Jobs with Justice as a mechanism for creating real power for people of color in the labor movement. We chose our initial projects carefully to build an anti-racist orientation. Six months after founding the coalition, we helped to prevent for-profit Columbia HCA’s purchase of a community hospital in a Black, Latino and Asian neighborhood.
The even division of the coalition’s two co-chairs between representatives from community and labor helped ease concerns about balancing the interests of both constituency groups. By the second year I was chair of Rhode Island JwJ, and we balance our support to unions by participating in community-based campaigns to organize temp workers and daycare providers. The coalition grew significantly, as we overcame our initial isolation as a collection of the usual suspects of Rhode Island lefties by providing powerful support for healthcare workers negotiating contracts and UPS strikers.
Our largest and most successful event came during a national Jobs with Justice Day of Action around Welfare/Workfare. We organized a hearing at the State House where unemployed mothers testified about the lack of decent jobs and the need for affordable education and training. Former welfare recipients who acquired their first decent jobs by becoming union members talked about the need to fight corporate greed. Union rank and filers and welfare recipients looked around the meeting room and saw themselves allied against liberal politicians and corporate interests.
In the three years since I left Providence, the JwJ chapter has offered vital support to winning the difficult month-long strike of Women and Infants’ Hospital workers and started a vibrant Living Wage campaign. Jobs with Justice is a meeting place for the left of the labor movement (including community-based worker organizations), a place to offer meaningful class-wide support to fights on a local level, and a place to build our support for key social and economic justice demands none of us can win alone.
Rob Baril is an organizer with 1199-CT in New Haven, Connecticut.
Building an Independent Union of Clerical Workers
Our effort to build union power for clerical employees at the University of California (UC) began in an unlikely place: a drive to decertify our union.
At the time of the decertification effort, we worked in an “open shop.” Our union, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), represented nearly 19,000 clerical employees statewide. But less than 1,000 were dues-paying union members.
Given the low dues income, AFSCME officials were not terribly interested in the union’s members at UC. Where AFSCME representatives were visible, they were a negative presence. Union staff were indifferent or condescending toward members and hostile to efforts to inform and involve the rank and file. Local activists had the impossible job of trying to recruit more workers to the union, fight a hostile and aggressive employer, and at the same time struggle against AFSCME staffers who resisted our involvement. Fed up, in 1995 we decided to break with AFSCME and form an independent union, the Coalition of University Employees (CUE).
To become the official bargaining unit at UC, CUE had 12 months to gather signatures from 30 percent of the bargaining unit calling for an election. For the majority of this period, CUE had no paid staff. Rank-and-file involvement was less a virtue than a necessity. We forced a recognition election by gathering signatures from 45 percent of the workforce, and become the official bargaining agent of UC clericals by a vote of 63 percent (21 percent voted for AFSCME, and only 16 percent voted for “no representation”) in November, 1997.
When we started CUE, with limited resources, we had no choice but to reject the “service model” of unionism. We didn’t have the staff available to “service the client.” Organizing, grievances, newsletters, workshops – these were all done by rank-and-file members. We found new activists in a variety of ways. We held “know your rights” workshops, and used those to identify and develop leaders. Where people were insecure about their abilities, it helped tremendously to be able to point out that CUE’s leaders were clericals just like them.
Our leadership development efforts largely succeeded. Although the founders of CUE primarily came out of the ranks of fed-up AFSCME activists, our current leadership is overwhelmingly made up of members who became active after we left AFSCME. One ongoing failure has been that although our elected leaders are primarily women, they are also primarily white. Making our leadership more representative of our membership is an absolute necessity.
In 1998, we began bargaining our first contract, which is now one of the strongest union contracts at UC. Our demands reflected members’ concerns and our contract campaign relied on rank-and-file involvement to build unity and pressure.
We wanted contract language that would restrict the university’s ability to institute new work rules, which sounds dry but is probably the single most important factor determining the quality of our work lives. The university was sure people wouldn’t care about the issue, so we asked clericals to share examples of unreasonable work rules.
We presented hundreds of letters detailing examples of demeaning dress codes, ridiculous attendance policies, etc., as well as scores of emotional letters supporting CUE’s position. We used a similar approach to address the problem of discrimination at the university, and won the ability to take discrimination grievances to arbitration. We weren’t able to go as far as we wanted to bring clerical wages up to the market level, but we did succeed in making many improvements to our wage structure.
When CUE started, our only resources came from our limited dues income. Beginning in January of 2000, things changed dramatically. California’s governor signed legislation that requires all UC employees to pay an “agency fee” to the union even if they choose not to be members. As a result, CUE’s budget increased at least tenfold. We are still in the process of figuring out how these new resources are going to affect the way in which CUE functions.
CUE has already been approached by AFL-CIO unions about affiliating with them. It is possible that CUE’s presence in a larger union might help spread union reform and change. On the other hand, unions with progressive reputations have proven very effective at containing grassroots activism within their ranks to “acceptable levels.” CUE might find that its own practices and structure are what gets changed through affiliation, in ways that create less space for direct member control.
CUE tries to make our decisions in the broadest possible way. When CUE took a position on the issue of extending benefits to employees’ domestic partners, we didn’t just pass an executive board resolution. We sent out arguments for and against the change (authored by members), and held a membership vote. After we were successful in convincing CUE members to support this issue, we made a point of making our position as visible and public as we could. CUE leaders trust members to make the right decisions, and hope that builds a reciprocal trust in the organization.
Since the majority of CUE’s leaders were not part of the AFSCME experience, they don’t all share the same views about problems with bureaucratic unions or the virtues of rank-and-file democracy. All of CUE’s officers are UC employees, most working a 40-hour work week and doing their union work on top of that. This can be a tremendous burden, and makes the idea of an efficient service-model union pretty attractive. In order to keep CUE a member-run union, we will need to address this problem so that activists have the support they need to continue providing our union’s leadership without burning out.
Claudette Begin, Claudia Horning, and Michael-David Sasson are clerical workers at the University of California and members of CUE.
Why Bother with Unionized Industrial Workers?
Aren’t efforts to reform U.S. industrial unions made irrelevant by changes in the global economy? After all, we are told that high-tech industries and services are the future of the U.S. economy. And doesn’t building reform movements in existing unions prioritize organizing with white male industrial workers instead of low-wage workers, people of color and women?
Perhaps surprisingly, the answer to both these questions is a resounding “no.” Building strong reform movements in unions of industrial workers is an essential part of any strategy to revitalize the labor movement.
While it is true that the industrial working class has declined as a percentage of the workforce from about half the private sector 40 years ago to less than 30 percent today, the overall number of industrial workers is down only slightly, from about 22 million in the 1970s to slightly more than 20 million today.
More importantly, the percentage of the Gross Domestic Product produced by this declining number of industrial workers has actually grown in the same period. What’s more, the good produced by these workers are literally the foundation of almost all other economic activity. That is, it is the industrial working class that produces the entire infrastructure (roads, ports, airports, railroads, factories, office buildings, transportation, housing, etc.) on which all other economic activity depends.
Despite changes in the economy, both real and hyped, the industrial working class has a potential power that no other social grouping within or outside the working class has. This is only potential power, waiting to be organizing and exercised in alliance with other social forces. But this power is fundamental to any attempt to radically transform and reorganize U.S. society.
Union reform efforts among the industrial working class impact all workers, not just white men. Contrary to popular assumptions, workers of color are found among the ranks of industrial workers at a slightly higher percentage than their level of representation in the workforce as a whole. African Americans are 11 percent of the industrial workforce vs. 10 percent overall. Latinos are 8 percent vs. 7.6 percent. Although unions are as riddled with racism as any American institution, they are also among the most multicultural in the country.
While women have been underrepresented in the industrial workforce (27 percent compared to 45.7 percent in the total private workforce), they have grown as a proportion in recent decades. In some industrial sectors, women’s numbers are nearly comparable to their representation in the overall workforce: 33 percent in manufacturing, 41 percent in nondurable manufacturing and 45 percent in communications.
Overall, by 1992, white males composed only a slight majority of the industrial workforce compared to two-thirds thirty years earlier.
The importance of reform activity in the major unions of industrial workers comes from the continued centrality of these workers to the economy. If industrial workers remain disorganized within their unions – or unorganized like the tens of thousands of non-union auto parts workers who are being neglected by the United Auto Workers which is instead targeting the service sector – then the essential contribution of mobilized industrial workers to working-class movements for political change will be lost.
Of course, even a revived labor movement – let alone the radically democratic restructuring of the U.S. economy and society – will require much more than democratic unions of industrial workers. A new labor movement will need to join democratic unions of workers from all economic sectors with community-based labor organizations and ally them with social movement organizations for racial, gender, environmental and economic justice. This resurgent movement will need to engage in workplace actions, street mobilizations and independent political action.
Such a movement can only exist if done on many fronts. But a strategy that jettisons the need to organize for union reform among industrial workers removes a critical element of the equation: the economic power of workers who are fundamental to the economy and society.
Much of the above argument, and all of its figures, are taken from “the Industrial Working Class Today: Why It Still Matters—Or Does It?” by Kim Moody, Against the Current, October 1995. This article defines the industrial working class as private-sector production or non-supervisory workers (and their households) in mining, construction, manufacturing, transportation, communications and energy production.
“Radical” Bureaucrats and “Conservative” Workers
The assumption is sometimes made that labor officials are more “progressive” or “radical” than rank-and-file workers, and that consequently young activists have more of a natural affinity with the leadership than with the members of a union. Usually this assumption goes unstated, but sometimes it is made explicit. A good example appears in a series of articles on student-labor activism in the Spring 2000 issue of The Activist, a publication of the Democratic Socialists of America. DSA states that it has “many friends and members in the new AFL-CIO (including President John Sweeney).” For this reason, it is instructive to consider the analysis of the relationship between students, union officials, and the rank-and-file membership that DSA presents.
In this publication aimed at young activists, DSA describes union officials as “radical” and union members as “conservative.” Not once, not twice, but three times, the point is made about 1) “the disparity between union leadership’s politics (radical) and rank-and-file (often conservative),” 2) the “forward-looking leadership” and “sometimes-conservative politics of rank-and-file members,” and 3) the “radical leadership” and “rank-and-file members often less prone to Left politics.”
Two of the passages cited refer to the “radical” leaders and “conservative” rank-and-file members of the United Steelworkers of America (USWA). The Steelworkers’ leadership is praised for “recognizing the need to move away from the protectionism and nationalism that has traditionally characterized American labor.”
It would be great if this were true. But a look at some of the rhetoric the USWA has employed in fights against steel imports, WTO expansion and Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China suggests they have a long way to go. One ad the USWA sponsored as part of their campaign against steel imports was headlined “FOREIGN ASSAULT ON AMERICAN JOBS AND COMPANIES UNCOVERED!” During an anti-WTO rally, Steelworker President George Becker complained that “imports are inundating our borders.” Finally, what are we to make of Steelworker President Becker’s beeline from nationalism into cold-war rhetoric during the AFL-CIO’s drive against Permanent Normal Trade Relations status for China? In addition to the loss of U.S. jobs, Becker said that part of the reason Americans should oppose normal trade relations with China is “they are communist,” “our ideological enemy,” and “a godless nation” (Speech at Detroit AFL-CIO Rally, April 25, 2000).
And how can a view of the Steelworkers’ leadership as “radical” and the rank and file as “conservative” be reconciled with their respective roles in the canceled Kaiser Aluminum actions in Tacoma, Washington? Inspired by the demonstrations in Seattle against the WTO, locked-out steelworkers established an alliance with environmentalists and community supporters to take on Kaiser and its parent corporation, MAXXAM. Kaiser was attacking workers’ rights. MAXXAM was clear-cutting forests. These abuses helped to unite Steelworkers and environmentalists against a common enemy. The Steelworkers and the Direct Action Network planned a mass, nonviolent direct action at Kaiser for March 25-26, 2000, which won the support of the King County (Seattle) and Pierce County (Tacoma) Labor Councils, Longshore Workers, Carpenters, Earth First!, and others.
With only a week to go before the action, and with activists and union members planning for the expected arrival of more than 1,000 supporters, the local Steelworkers leadership unilaterally pulled out. In public, the Steelworkers leadership claimed the union was too busy trying to pass two strike-related bills through the state legislature in Olympia to participate in the action. However, local activists (and some press accounts) attributed the Steelworkers’ last-minute cold feet to fear that they would not be able to control the action. Either way, rank-and-file activists and their supporters were left holding the bag, and the developing labor-community alliance was dealt a setback.
When deciding who their allies are, activists may be well-served to put aside pre-conceived notions about who is “radical” and who is “conservative” and follow the old dictum, “Actions speak louder than words.”
Organizing for Educational Justice
I became a teacher in 1999, drawn to the job as an opportunity to work with young people and their communities on issues of race, gender and class oppression. In the late 1990s, a growing number of California teachers were drawn into struggles around political issues by state propositions that had a devastating impact on teachers and education.
First came the anti-immigrant Proposition 187, which made teachers an arm of the INS and would have forced us to check students’ immigration status. That proposition was passed but was eventually defeated by legal challenges. Then came Proposition 227, a proposal to end bilingual education. The refusal of organizations that were opposed to Proposition 227 to explicitly discuss racism left me frustrated. When the next round of attacks on students of color came, I was determined to be part of a different approach.
Governor Davis published a list of California’s “100 Worst Schools,” based on the results of the state’s standardized test, the Stanford 9. Not surprisingly, there was a direct correlation between the governor’s list and schools located in communities of color. A group of teachers, many of us active in Second Opinion, the reform caucus in United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), a merged local of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA), began a group that later became the Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ).
CEJ brings together teachers, parents and students to struggle together for real reform in schools. CEJ organizes campaigns against race and class biases in the educational system. For example, under the California state educational code, parents have the right to have their kids opt out of standardized testing without the student suffering any negative impact. In reality, this right is hidden from parents, and principals are very hostile to it being exercised. CEJ informs parents and students about their rights and has organized demonstrations to defend the rights of parents and students, as well as the rights of teachers who have been unjustly disciplined for “advocating” that students not take standardized tests.
CEJ also organizes to pressure the school and the UTLA leadership. Through its newsletter and through its presence in decision-making bodies of the union, CEJ members and their allies in Second Opinion successfully pressured the union to put is proposed “Classroom Bill of Rights” front and center in contract negotiations. The proposed Bill of Rights gave teachers the right to grieve poor conditions and a lack of materials. It also put a cap on class size in every classroom. During negotiations, CEJ organized a demonstration of teachers, parents and students at the School Board to support the union’s proposal on these issues, but also to pressure the union leadership not to cede these demands.
Ultimately, the union leadership caved in, dropping the Bill of Rights in exchange for a pay increase. When a proposal to recommend that members approve the contract came up for a vote in the Union House of Representatives, CEJ and Second Opinion activists forced a tie vote blocking recommendation. On the board of directors, recommendation was defeated outright. Unfortunately, after a big push by the leadership, the membership voted to approve the contract. But this is not the last time that Second Opinion and CEJ, who have a large crossover membership, will be raising these issues.
CEJ is consciously attempting to do something very unusual. Rather than developing a parent-student group that supports teachers’ demands, CEJ aims to be a real coalition where leadership is shared and there is an awareness of the power and race dynamics that can exist between the three groups. No decisions are made on high and passed down. Monthly meetings in schools and community libraries are the forums where experiences are discussed and used to develop both strategy and goals. Intensive and deliberate recruitment is done to encourage parents and students especially to be involved in all aspects of the organization: from making presentations to facilitating meetings to serving on steering committees.
CEJ is by no means a socialist project. Its campaigns and programs are grounded in the ideas and aspirations of the teachers, parents and students who have come together to work for change, the vast majority of whom are not socialists. But due to the character of its aims, CEJ does allow for the exploration of the contradictions of public education under capitalism, and for workers and communities affected by these contradictions to formulate demands on the state and define an alternative vision for schools and education. I see myself in this work for the long haul, building what I hope will be a useful example of a multiracial grassroots movement.
Rebecca Solomon is a founding member of the Coalition for Educational Justice.
Thoughts on Taking a Rank-and-File Job
Activists interested in rank-and-file union organizing have a lot of options. You can find a job at a unionized workplace, or you can salt a non-union workplace. If you are committed to staying at the job you already have, you and your co-workers can try to organize a union, or you can get involved with labor solidarity efforts.
What are some basic considerations you should consider before choosing a job?
Level of organizing activity: Finding a job where there is already some organizing activity offers real benefits. You can learn from workers with a history of organizing, and your experience will be less isolating if you are joining forces with others. A union with a high level of activity or an existing rank-and-file caucus will offer activism that you can plug into. A workplace where there is a union will offer more job protection than a non-union workplace, and a context that makes organizing activity seem less risky or foreign to your co-workers. If an opportunity at a union job isn’t available, taking a job as a salt in a workplace that a union is targeting for organizing is more likely to produce an organizing opportunity than trying to start an organizing drive as a new hire in an unorganized shop.
Maximizing your impact: Activists need to think strategically about where they choose to work so that their efforts can have the greatest effect. How many workers work at the workplace? How central is the workplace in the operation of the company or its industry? How important is the local union to the national union? By working in larger workplaces, new activists can draw on the experiences of a greater number of workers. By choosing a workplace or job that is central to the operations of a company you can locate yourself where workers have the greatest potential power against the employer.
A support network: Rank-and-file work can be confusing and frustrating. Activists need a support network to help them deal with the political and organizational questions rank-and-file work poses. If possible, it’s best to take a job with a friend, or at a workplace where there are already people doing political work. If that’s not possible, it’s important to have a network of people with whom you can work through the problems you confront. Solidarity members serve as such a support network by helping one another think through our work and experiences.
Avoiding burnout: Building a new labor movement from below is not a quick task. Passing out a few incendiary flyers at work won’t radicalize the working class, and fast talk will impress less than proven activism on the job. If you want to help build a new labor movement through rank-and-file activism, first you have to build the trust and confidence of your fellow coworkers. That takes time. Activists need to find jobs they can do for years.
The work itself: Few jobs are easy and all come with their particular mix of hardships and rewards. If you are looking for a job you can stay with for years, rather than months – a key to rank-and-file work – then you need to think about the type of work involved and what is best suited to you. Boring, repetitive work can be worthwhile if it provides sustainable opportunities to organize. (One Solidarity member sought out the position of janitor in an auto plant because it allows her to move freely and talk to workers throughout the plan during her shift.) On the other hand, some jobs not only present good organizing opportunities, but also provide the chance to learn a new skill, and pay and benefits that rival some professional jobs.
What’s there to learn: We all will have several jobs over the course of our lives. Each one makes for a different learning opportunity. Look for a job where you will be able to practice your skills and gain new ones. You may acquire a technical skill, learn to speak a new language, organize around grievances and workplace violations, or participate in a rank-and-file contract campaign. By grounding your politics in a concrete workplace experience, you will be able to test your ideas and beliefs, and learn from your co-workers. Even if you don’t end up staying at a particular job for long, the experience of being involved in workplace organizing from the inside-out can be an invaluable reference point in future activism.