US labour organizer to speak at York and downtown Thursday

Partial Poster of Jane McAlevey Talks

Jane McAlevey, a long-time organizer in the United States labour and environmental justice movements, will speak twice Thursday, the first time as part of York’s Global Labour Research Centre’s 2013-14 speaker series.

A PhD candidate at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City, McAlevey will discuss “Building High Participation Unions as Union Revitalization Strategy” on Feb. 27, from noon to 2pm, at S802 Ross Building, Keele campus. Copies of her book will be on sale at the event for $20. Refreshments will be served and everyone is welcome to attend.

Full Poster of Jane McAlevey TalkMcAlevey will discuss the lessons learned from 10 years of building strong local unions that win collective bargaining and political gains based on deep and extensive membership involvement, particularly in the context of the right-to-work state of Nevada and in the face of intensive union-busting efforts of for-profit hospital employers. This talk will shed light on the ongoing debates over how to rebuild union power in the face of austerity, growing inequality and Conservative parties’ attacks on the basis of union organizational security.

Her first book, Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell), published by Verso Press, was named the “most valuable book of 2012” by The Nation Magazine. She has served as executive director and chief negotiator for SEIU Nevada, as national deputy director for strategic campaigns of the Healthcare Division for SEIU. In addition, she was the campaign director of the one of the only successful multi-union, multi-year, geographic organizing campaigns for the national AFL-CIO (in Stamford, Conn.).

McAlevey has led power structure analyses and strategic planning training for a wide range of union and community organizations and has had extensive involvement in globalization and global environmental issues. She worked at the Highlander Research and Education Center as an educator (and as deputy director) in her early 20s.

For more information, visit the Facebook event page. To watch an interview of McAlevey by Laura Flanders, visit the YouTube website. The talk is co-sponsored by the departments of geography, social science and sociology in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.

Her second talk will be part of the Greater Toronto Workers Assembly’s event Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell): A discussion with author and labour organizer Jane McAlevey at 7pm in the Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street, Toronto.

Sam Gindin will discuss McAlevey’s book with her – Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell). In her book, she describes her experiences in the labour movement organizing bold, large-scale campaigns in right to work Nevada and elsewhere in the US, drawing lessons about the potential for rebuilding the labour movement into a movement that can win. McAlevey’s experiences organizing in the student, environmental justice and union movement reflect her central belief that meaningful change can only come with “whole-worker organizing” that puts ordinary people at the centre of their own struggle, in their workplaces and in their communities.

Gindin spent 27 years in the Canadian Auto Workers union, first as research director and then as an advisor to the president. He is a member of the Greater Toronto Workers Assembly Labour Committee and co-author, with York Distinguished Research Professor Leo Panitch, of The Making of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy of American Empire.

For more information, visit the Facebook event page or contact Professor Stephanie Ross, co-director of the Global Labour Research Centre at York and president of the Canadian Association for Work & Labour Studies, at