Stewart Acuff

Feb 13

A Determination to Organize

Yesterday I arrived at Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia in Canada for a week of speaking, training, and teaching. The British Columbia Federation of Labor does a five week school for workers. I am very proud to have been asked to teach organizing at this great tradition of worker education.

As a way of contextualizing the ever-increasing need for organizing we talked in specifics about the global assault on workers and unions from multinational corporations and rightwing governments. We talked about the global economic race to the bottom, declining density in the US, Canada, and Britain and the consequent assault on public services and,  the assault on democracy itself.

Canadian Labour is preparing for elections this spring with a real chance for the labor-leaning New Democratic Party to make major gains. BC Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair gave a great, thoughtful and rousing speech last night about the upcoming elections. He started by talking about the working class and the interests of the working class that differ from the Financial Elite.

While private sector union density in Canada is dropping as it is all over the developed world, there is a real sense of hope and determination here – a determination to organize, to win these elections, and to make the freedom to form unions once again an absolute right in Canada.

It is important to note that overall union density remains about 30%. And, of course, Canada has Medicare for all – single payer healthcare where everyone gets the same level of care, no one has to fear sickness for themselves and their children, and no workers and unions have to bargain away wage gains to pay for rising healthcare costs.

The President’s State of the Union speech was last night, as you know. He announced the winding down of military action in Afghanistan. I’ve been reporting that Americans are more war weary than I can ever remember. Polling indicates the speech was popular with the American people – only 22% were negative about the speech, 53% were positive. The President continues to push forward on immigration and reasonable gun regulation.


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Stewart Acuff is the former organizing Director of the AFL-CIO. Acuff has also written two books: Playing Bigger Than You Are: A Life in Organizing, and Getting America Back to Work.

Playing Bigger Than You Are - A Life in OrganizingGet the e-book edition of Playing Bigger Than You Are by clicking here!

1 Comment

  1. john

    February 13, 2013


    I was very sorry to see the National Labor College close. What kind of organizing education is happening in the labor movement these days?

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