Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell): My Decade Fighting for the Labor Movement
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
In 1995, in the first contested election in the history of the AFL-CIO, John Sweeney won the presidency of the nation’s largest labor federation, promising renewal and resurgence. Today, less than 7 percent of American private-sector workers belong to a union, the lowest percentage since the beginning of the twentieth century, and public employee collective bargaining has been dealt devastating blows in Wisconsin and elsewhere. What happened?
Jane McAlevey is famous—and notorious—in the American labor movement as the hard-charging organizer who racked up a string of victories at a time when union leaders said winning wasn’t possible. Then she was bounced from the movement, a victim of the high-level internecine warfare that has torn apart organized labor. In this engrossing and funny narrative—that reflects the personality of its charismatic, wisecracking author—McAlevey tells the story of a number of dramatic organizing and contract victories, and the unconventional strategies that helped achieve them.
Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell) argues that labor can be revived, but only if the movement acknowledges its mistakes and fully commits to deep organizing, participatory education, militancy, and an approach to workers and their communities that more resembles the campaigns of the 1930s—in short, social movement unionism that involves raising workers’ expectations (while raising hell).
California local had workers from more than twenty. For the HCA, we carried equal weight, with having roughly the same number in both states. If anything, the Nevada local was the senior partner, because the HCA hospitals in Las Vegas produced much more profit than those in California. All of this meant that in both the CHW and HCA unity councils, the key players were Sal Rosselli from California, Larry Fox from DC, and me. The three of us worked together well enough and got our unity councils
they wanted to spend a little time explaining to nurses in Reno what the nurses in Vegas had done. Yeah, the national SEIU sucked. But as bad as headquarters had been, they still hadn’t managed to derail the little juggernaut we had put together in Vegas. And it wasn’t as if there were some other, much better national organization I could join where I could have a hand in helping to improve the future direction of the world’s remaining super power. We decided the entire UHS organizing team
assignments they gave you, ultimately they would give you more assignments and the work would go forward. I was wrong. The further up the power ladder you go, the less it matters whether you win or lose. Past a certain point, winning actually becomes a liability, because the people at the top will feel threatened by the power you are accumulating unless they can control it; they cannot imagine that your ambition would not be to use that power in the same way they use theirs. It took ten years of
58; in health care unions, 114–15; workplace identification, 38 Lederle strike, 20 legal regulation, 211 Levi, Morgan, 85, 104–5, 115, 145, 216–17 local executive board elections, Nevada: campaign, 288; funding for, 287–8; guidelines, 285; notification mail accusation, 281–2; protest by Mike Elgas, 282–3; re-elections, 283–4, 287; vote rigging accusation, 283; voter turnout, 288 local SEIU: fast and fair model, 299–300; in Las Vegas, 88–9, 91–2, 96, 98, 122, 248; negotiation rumors, 197–8;
face of fierce employer intimidation and won your union election. You thought that the war in the workplace was over and you could get back to practicing your trade and living your life. Suddenly you realize that the war has just begun, and now you watch the boss fight like crazy to stop you from getting a contract, threatening and harassing you even more ferociously for another twelve months to stall the negotiation process. And through it all the employer subtly suggests that if the whole union