Short notes from McAlevey, Jane F. No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age. NY: Oxford UP, 2016.

Notes below. I am interested in reading more on organic leaders, identifying and developing organic leaders for scale, and organizing as opposed to activist or advocacy work (with many things that I’ve read blending these). I’m always looking for more reading suggestions (even with mountains of things to read), and I’m really interested in the 1199NE style unionism.

McAlevey, Jane F. No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age. NY: Oxford UP, 2016.

121: “This is why CIO-style unions like 1199NE try to recruit the organic leaders, not the activists, for these positions. There is a radical and crucial difference between delegates who approach problem solving as a group effort and those who operate as lone wolves.”

153: “campaigns that both sought high levels of worker engagement and agency (known as ‘the ground war’) and also sought to exploit any type of vulnerability a corporation might have outside the workplace (called ‘the air war’).”

199: “The biggest success of the neoliberal project has been a doubling down of the self-blame articulated by Piven and Cloward. Self-blame demobilizes people, and it is a strategy.”

209: “Scale comes from seriously developing the skills of the organic leaders among the masses of ordinary people.”

Book is based on dissertation, which is openly available online, and covers the material and more (and is easier for finding quotes/cites). See for wonders like this quoted from 1199NE:

  1. Get close to the workers, stay close to the workers.
  2. Tell workers it’s their union and then behave that way.
  3. Don’t do for workers what they can do.
  4. The union is not a fee for service; it is the collective experience of workers in struggle.
  5. The union’s function is to assist workers in making a positive change in their lives.
  6. Workers are made of clay, not glass.
  7. Don’t be afraid to ask workers to build their own union.
  8. Don’t be afraid to confront them when they don’t.
  9. Don’t spend your time organizing workers who are already organizing themselves, go to the biggest worst.
  10. The working class builds cells for its own defense, identify them and recruit their leaders.
  11. Anger is there before you are—channel it, don’t defuse it.
  12. Channeled anger builds a fighting organization.
  13. Workers know the risks, don’t lie to them.
  14. Every worker is showtime—communicate energy, excitement, urgency and confidence.
  15. There is enough oppression in workers lives not to be oppressed by organizers.
  16. Organizers talk too much. Most of what you say is forgotten.
  17. Communicate to workers that there is no salvation beyond their own power.
  18. Workers united can beat the boss. You have to believe that and so do they.
  19. Don’t underestimate the workers.
  20. We lose when we don’t put workers into struggle.

Taken from the 1199 Organizing Conference, Feb. 6-9, 1985, Columbus, Ohio