The author, who preferred to remain anonymous, worked as a field organizer for the largest public service union in the United States, before becoming a teacher in a large urban area. Today, he organizes with colleagues and students around issues relating to the accessibility of education and obtaining driving licenses for undocumented migrants.
I started thinking about a series of advice that I would give myself, if i could talk to the young organizer i was ten years ago. I've learned so much over the past decade and I've made a lot of mistakes too.. So here's what I wish I had heard ten years ago, based on my personal experience, as well as my own mistakes. Sure, this advice still applies to me today; I still did not become a perfect organizer.
It is important to organize around clear objectives, realistic and represent progressive points that allow us to measure the progress and success of our campaign. Awareness and festivities alone do not allow us to measure these things.. We must organize around tangible things that have a direct impact on the quality of life and work of people.
Participating in protests is not the epicenter of union organizing. Sometimes, it can be good times, but you must not let yourself believe that it counts as "doing something" constructive and putting your energy into jumping from demo to demo.
Listen to the opinions and input of people around you. Listen to their ideas first. Check where they are, what their problems and issues are rather than guessing and anticipating them.
Avoid organizing only with people from the same subcultures and cultural scenes from which we come.. The result of such an organization will create an effect of exclusion among people who do not come from the same backgrounds..
Do not get carried away with super ideological and dogmatic theories. The majority of people don't give a damn about the ideological bickering that took place in 1936 or your political differences with such and such a. Although it is interesting as a hobby and the theory and history can feed ideas, thegauche is sometimes too obsessed with ideology as an identity. Instead, demonstrate your methodology through your organizational methods.
Respect the collective process by working through disagreements and planning collectively.
Knock on doors, pick up the phone and make calls; contact people without always going through social networks.
Be consistent, like a drum riff. Be on time and keep your word on your commitments.
Do not close the door to certain people following a clash or an ideological dispute. Do not leave comrades behind or forget certain people. People are not an inexhaustible resource.
Include and reach out to people who are not already in authority. Too often, organizers instinctively go to people who already have a lot of social capital and therefore more authority.
The power is in theshoppe, not in the office. See the rows as they are on the ground floor.
No need to ask permission.
Stay close to workers.
Help build students' organizational skills. Consider students as adults and even comrades in struggle, while knowing that you are their teacher. The key is to build real relationships, make them laugh.
Don't be afraid to disagree, but do not become obnoxious..
Do not get caught up in all the frills of the organization. Although the posters, leaflets and newsletters are great tools, you don't deserve dessert before you've eaten your plate!
Organize the working class, not the left.
Article original d’Organizing Work. Translated from English by Elizabeth Stone