Jacobin - October 19, 2020
"We designed the course to emphasize the fundamentals of organizing — and linked these specifically to how we develop strike-ready unions. But there are also a whole bunch of fantastic tenants’ rights and climate organizations involved, who are applying these lessons to their work."
Throughout September and October, thousands of activists and unionists from seventy countries participated in the international “Strike School organizing training led by Jane McAlevey and sponsored by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung.
Jacobin’s Eric Blanc spoke with McAlevey about the key lessons of the course, the reasons why this tradition has been marginalized within organized labor, and the ways smart organizing methods can help rebuild working-class politics and transform unions today.
Can you talk about Strike School, who participated, and what its main purpose was?
To be honest, we organized Strike School partly in response to the increase of talk about strikes and general strikes. A lot of people now are saying we need a general strike, so it seemed like exactly the right time to dig into organizing fundamentals and teach how to build to supermajority strikes — the kind that we need to stop the Right and turn things around for the working class.
Strike School has turned into an important space for the past two months — it’s really been something to see this blossom. There were thousands of participants from seventy countries, and all the trainings and materials are translated into Arabic, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Hebrew, and German. It’s sponsored by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, which is beautiful — to be able to carry on Rosa’s name today and to keep the idea of strikes, big strikes, alive.
We designed the course to emphasize the fundamentals of organizing — and linked these specifically to how we develop strike-ready unions. But there are also a whole bunch of fantastic tenants’ rights and climate organizations involved, who are applying these lessons to their work.
I get so many emails that I can’t keep up with, where people say, “I want to learn the stuff you write about.” I decided one thing that I can do for those who can’t read the books — which is many people — is to partner with the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung to get out there a couple of times a year to teach like crazy. This time, for this Strike School, we required people to register as groups. Getting strike ready is not about individuals — it’s about people who can form organizations together, even if they start small.
And if there’s one thing that unites Strike School, beyond its radical politics centered around bottom-up change, it’s a commitment to building a specific method of organizing: structure-based organizing. Because it’s not just enough to fight. What our side needs is to fight back and win. And to do that, we need to learn and relearn the fundamentals of organizing. ...
Read full interview at Jacobin