Movement Training in Chicago

Shout out to all the fellow students in Organizing Beyond Barriers from all the activists here in Chicago—what a week we had! We are marching to our own drums and don’t miss a beat.

On Monday, we had a comprehensive campaign training session, where we explored themes of power from allies and opposition and how they related to each other. The training sessions are always engaging, with great discussions and idea sharing.

This week opened new battlegrounds in our continued fight for living wages with the Stable Jobs, Stable Airports Ordinance. We dug deeper into our turf; mapping, canvassing, recruiting volunteers and speaking to community leaders in our wards, to create a coalition of support from folks from all walks of life.

On our strategy for gaining support in the wards, Summer Organizer Matt had this to say; “It reminds me of what Cleve Jones said about the Prop 8 fight in California.  There, the organizers failed to penetrate traditional ethnic and class divisions. When organizing, you avoid the lower class neighborhoods at your own peril. You must get out of your safe zone, which is what we are doing here in Chicago.”

-Lakayana, Summer Organizer, Chicago


Pittsburgh supports!

Staying Busy in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh represents

The last few weeks have been inspiring and very active for us in Pittsburgh!

We have done leafleting at local CVS stores for the Sky Chefs actions, as well as rallying outside of Lufthansa’s headquarters in New York with over 200 members and students! We also attended the sustainable foods module in Connecticut and left with a better understanding of how we can bring the Labor Movement into focus within the Sustainable Foods Movement.

On Saturday we had our last Social Justice Organizer Training, during which Cleve Jones spoke and blew everyone away with his powerful experiences and dedication to moving the fight for civil rights forward.

In the upcoming days we are also going to do leaflet actions for Hyatt Hotels and meet with our local members to update them on the community outreach we have been working on. All in all it has been a great summer with numerous opportunities to learn and grow. UNITE HERE is an amazing organization and it has been a true honor to work alongside its members and organizers. Here in Pittsburgh we intend to keep close contact with our local, and continue to contribute to the ongoing struggles and campaigns.

-Meredith, Summer Organizer, Pittsburgh

The People’s City Council!

All together nowThe UIC Forum in Chicago was rocking on Thursday, July 7th. Hundreds of UNITE HERE Local 1 members and volunteers wearing red shirts and waving red signs shouted and chanted in support of better jobs and schools and affordable housing. We were joined by thousands of other people from other unions and community organizations. Summer organizers in Chicago helped plan and organize this event, the first-ever People’s City Council. It was a huge success.  The meeting was loud and energetic, featuring a mock debate between a character called “Mr. Moneybags” and working people from across the city.At the forum

Kim Junior, a UNITE HERE Local 1 member working for Hudson News at Chicago O’Hare Airport, talked about working full time but still struggling to put food on the table for her family. That’s why she is fighting for a policy in Chicago that would guarantee a living wage and job security for her and thousands of other airport workers. Summer organizers are helping in this fight by organizing and mobilizing communities around the city. We do canvassing with workers and volunteers twice a week in different parts of Chicago. In one neighborhood, we have gathered over 1,200 petitions from residents supporting the airport living wage!With our signs

Politicians are definitely paying attention. 19 Chicago aldermen attended the People’s City Council. At the end of the meeting, they signed a pledge and spoke in support of the living wage and other progressive policies. Many of them gave UNITE HERE Local 1 a shout-out in their speeches, acknowledging our leading role in fighting for better jobs in Chicago.

Summer organizers pause to strike a poseFor summer organizers and volunteers, this event gave us a lot of motivation and momentum as we continue the fight. Si se puede!

-Martin, Summer Organizer, Chicago


A Creative A(u)ction in Indianapolis

AuctionOn June 29th, summer volunteers and interns in Indianapolis put on a creative and attention-grabbing action at a busy farmers’ market downtown. The action was a parody of an advertisement of Hospitality Staffing Solutions (HSS), a Hyatt subcontractor. HSS’ advertisement depicts sullen, uniformed hotel workers in a police line-up, implying that they could be criminals.

At the action, four volunteers dressed up as hotel workers, holding mug-shot placards and standing against a white backdrop designed to look like a police line-up. Another volunteer acted as an auctioneer, wearing a suit coat and top hat, advertising “the cheapest labor around!” to passersby while others handed out fliers.

OneI spent a portion of the action taking photos, and in doing so, was able to take a step back and pay attention to the reactions of the people around us. The most significant thing I noticed was how responsive and receptive people were: most readily took a flyer, and many even paused to have a brief conversation about the boycott. Almost all who did so had previously been unaware of the boycott and – more importantly – unaware of the reasons behind the boycott. I spoke with a group of construction workers who, after I told them about the  boycott, were not only supportive, but able to draw connections between the struggle of the hotel workers and their own experiences as workers.

This action was not just fun and creative, it was effective. It piqued the curiosity of passersby enough to overcome what can sometimes be the most difficult step when flyering: getting someone to take a flyer and engage in a conversation. Yes, we looked a little strange standing in front of a bedsheet on the sidewalk; yes, it was probably jarring to hear a man pretending to auction off workers (“Cheap, cheap labor! Only $7.25 an hour!”) in a voice much like that of a circus ringleader. But stranger than both of these things is that the advertisement we were mimicking and the stories we were telling were true. That is, unquestionably, the most ridiculous thing of all.


-Kylie, Summer Organizer, Indianapolis

Sky Chefs Actions Across the Nation

New Orleans LeafletSummer Organizers from coast to coast have been working hard to inform CVS managers and customers about issues at Sky Chefs, one of CVS’ vendors. Around the country, there have been about 30 delegations to CVS thus far! After the excitement Summer Organizers in New York experienced during their action, Summer Organizers in Chicago, Phoenix and New Orleans share their experiences:

Chicago Leaflet

“In Chicago, we took our materials to a CVS on Friday, July 1st. The CVS manager called the police, claiming we were harassing customers. Of course, we were not harassing customers, and so I wasn’t worried when the police showed up, but if we hadn’t known our rights they would have at the very least made us leave. So that leads me to the most important lesson I learned this week: Always know your rights. If you don’t, people may try to take advantage of you.” – Sophia, Summer Organizer, Chicago

New Orleans CVS leaflet

“In Phoenix, we had two very different experiences in our actions in support of SkyChefs workers this week. Johnny’s team distributed the FDA report and Food Bill of Rights to CVS management, who refused to sign the letter to the CVS supply chain executive. The team leafleted outside until management said the police were on their way. On the other side of the spectrum, our team spoke to a supervisor who really listened to us when we shared the information about Sky Chefs with him. He agreed to send all our material up the management chain. Since he had agreed to share information with his higher-ups, we didn’t leaflet, and at first our team was disappointed that we didn’t encounter the same excitement other teams had. But when we talked about the action in the car aftNew Orleans Leafleterwards, we remembered that we had accomplished our goal to bring the truth to higher levels of the company. So both Johnny’s team and our team were successful, just in different ways!”
– Jibran, Summer Organizer, Phoenix

New Orleans was also rocking and rolling, thanks to the hard work of Summer Organizers Charles, Zachary and Michael and their volunteers!