In our second book group, we discussed...
...organizing teachers and higher education workers
...how different unions within one union have different issues
...the essential piece of showing you care about the issues faced by colleagues who earn low wages or who have less status in a bureaucratic system
... transitioning into a union in a non-union workplace.
... gearing up for a contract fight and the tension between the business model and social justice model of unions.
Our other takeaways...
...Friendships are important to organizing.
...Relationships - build them first.
...Talking about feelings is hard work.
...Start with food and drink.
...Focus on shared issues when choosing a campaign.
...Build power by gaining small wins
...Workers have natural solidarity, but work places are often designed to undermine that solidarity.
...We know that flyers, emails, and tweets don't "organize," but conversations do.
In our third session, we focused on helping a PFT member and a parent plan an action at the school their children attend. We spoke about recognizing potential leaders, having that all-important initial conversation, and arranging quickly for a meeting. Discussions revolved around identifying a discrete problem within and issue and focusing on a winnable action. We talked a lot about overcoming fear (our fear and others' fear) and identifying the person who can make a change.
Members found the book extremely practical and with wide-ranging implications for job, school, and community organizing. Most of our discussions dealt with people's own organizing situations in the schools, and we brainstormed strategies together.
Though the book mostly dealt with workplaces outside the schools, it did include a great story in which teachers effectively challenged unhealthy mold in their school -- a problem that very much mirrors what's going on in some Philly schools.
Many of us agreed "Secrets of A Successful Organizer" was easy to read, and that it seems like there are a lot of small things that WE can use to further our efforts. That being said, it definitely seems like a book that would be more helpful to discuss as a group rather than read independently.