On six Tuesdays and Thursdays in September and October, over 3,000 workers from northern England to Palestine to South Africa logged into Zoom, gleefully announced their union affiliation in the chat, and settled in for a master class in power-building.
This was Organizing for Power: Strike School, a virtual course for labor activists worldwide run by legendary U.S. union organizer Jane McAlevey and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. The attendee list spanned unions, climate strikers, migrants’ organizations, and tenants groups from seventy countries. Attendance was free, and sessions were simultaneously interpreted into six languages.
Naturally, it wasn’t a stale Zoom seminar: it wouldn’t be Strike School if it didn’t harness the pulse-quickening energy of industrial action. The first session began with Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, telling the story of the moment she called for a general strike to end Trump’s 2019 government shutdown, electrifying the media and labor world. (The shutdown ended the next day.) The final session closed with Stacy Davis Gates, a director of the Chicago Teachers Union, calling the strikes she’s led through the streets of Chicago “almost a religious transformation”. …