Stewart Acuff

Sep 19

Organizing and Elections

I’m just returning from the IBEW 6th District meeting in Green Bay, Wis with Lonnie Stephenson and the Minnesota State AFL-CIO meeting in Rochester with Shar Knutsen.

We focused both those meetings as we should have on the elections in November, the President and both Houses of Congress.

And in both those meetings we talked about how close the elections would be and how tight the polling is.

We are right to do all we can to win those elections.


We have the greatest inequality in the history of our country. We have almost an entire political party committed to diminishing the franchise for folks who tend to vote Democratic and diminishing or even destroying our democracy. We have a Republican dominated Supreme Court that apparently believes and has ruled that corporations are people and money is speech so that corporations can spend as much money as they want trying to steal elections.

If we don’t get serious about organizing and growing our labor movement for the common good, we will eventually slip, have a bad candidate, make a mistake, lose an election, and lose the last rights we are barely hanging on to.

It is essential that we bear down in this election, work it like tight organizing, do everything right everywhere, and then get busy changing America.

We have to grow the labor movement for its own sake, but also as the engine of the rest of the progressive movement. We have to engage workers everywhere in high profile community fights for the freedom to form unions and engage in real free speech. We have to fight bosses not because we know we can win but because we know we gotta fight. You cannot win if you’re afraid to fight.
Then we gotta take on the rest of the progressive agenda. We outnumber the lame-brained gray and bald-headed white guys who’ve been running the country and ripping apart our lives. They need to get no more free passes, no more bullying. People of color, LGBT folks, seniors, poor people, low income workers all have to step up and out. This country belongs to all of us.

We have got to organize, link our arms, find the common ground, listen to Dr. Cornel West preach, then organize, and quit being so damned timid.

That’s why I wrote my book, Playing Bigger Than You Are: A Life in Organizing. Get a copy. See how its been done before and let’s get after it.


Stewart Acuff is America’s best-known and foremost labor organizer. He 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, coauthored by Dr. Richard Levins.

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