Direct Action and Organizing in the Labor Movement

Session time: 
Friday, June 26, 2015 -
10:30am to 12:00pm
Session Room: 
Short Description: 
We will discuss two tactics: underground organizing and strategic economic boycotts that we use to fight (and WIN!) against billion dollar, global corporations.

As a moderately sized labor union here in the United States, our union, UNITE HERE, often faces seemingly insurmountable odds: a global system of billion dollar corporations, all with the ability and will to threaten and fire workers for fighting for respect and dignity in their workplace; and what can often feel like endless resources and staff at their disposal. Many have classified these companies as "too big to unionize" and these campaigns as "too difficult to win." Despite this, our current news cycle is inundated with stories of workers standing up and fighting to change the system.

At UNITE HERE, we've taken a two pronged approach to fighting against these corporations that we will discuss in this workshop. Firstly, we'll focus on underground organizing. Underground organizing occurs when workers take jobs inside workplaces with the express intent of organizing workers within. Secondly, we'll discuss the creation of a boycott team. The principle role of that team is to provide financial leverage for workers by connecting hotel consumers with the concerns and struggles of hotel workers. By challenging hotel customers to engage in consumer activism, we provide another avenue for workers to gain power in their workplace. These two tactics, when coupled together, present a dynamic future of direct action and organizing for the union movement here in the United States.

Fronts of Struggle: 
Cooperative economics – poverty, housing, and workers’ struggles, anti-capitalism, and economic alternatives
Political democracy struggles, participatory democracy, 21st century socialism
Organization Web site:
Organization Description: 
UNITE HERE is a labor union that represents 270,000 working people across North America. Our members in the U.S. and Canada work in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries.
Polycentric Site: 
San Jose, CA
Presentation Languages: