From the TUC

Playing bigger than you are: Lessons from US organising

25 Jan 2013, By

Stewart Acuff on book tour

I’m so excited to be doing my first international book tour, bringing my new book, Playing Bigger Than You Are: An Organizer’s Life, to Britain, and working to deliver training for the TUC’s Organising Academy. The book is all about the 40 years I’ve spent as a community and union organizer in America, mostly in the American South.

I’ve been blessed to be in the middle of several historic moments in America – the civil rights movement, new organizing in the South, taking on the Ku Klux Klan (and being threatened with being cut “from asshole to appetite” for my trouble), tackling America’s extreme right and being threatened by the rightwing militia with being stalked and assassinated.

As I travel around Britain next week, I will be focusing on the lessons of my work organizing on some of the most difficult turf there is – and the work of the British unions to organize in new sectors and new workplaces. 
The most important reason for the economic crisis in America and one of the most important reasons for the global economic crisis is the lack of consumer demand created by the loss of union density and the consequent stagnant or declining wages.

We have a worldwide workers’ crisis. The TUC and Britain’s unions are leading the fight to grow the British labor movement – especially in new sectors and new worksites. I am deeply hopeful that my 40 years of experience organizing in Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, and other places could help provide lessons for British organizers, leaders, and activists.

I’d love to see you at one the events I’m doing next week:

GUEST POST: Stewart Acuff is one of America’s best-known union organisers, with a 40 year career in community and union organising, mainly in the Southern USA. In 1990, he became president of the Atlanta AFL-CIO where he organized and led the historic campaign to unionize the 1996 Olympics, labor’s biggest victory ever in the South. He served as Organizing Director of the national AFL-CIO from 2001-2008, and under his tenure the labor movement grew by more than it had in a generation. He developed the policy and legislation which became the Employee Free Choice Act and led the campaign to pass it. Stewart then worked as Chief of Staff of the Utility Workers Union of America until May, 2012.

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