LAWCHA is an organization of scholars, teachers, students, labor educators, and activists who seek to promote public and scholarly awareness of labor and working-class history through research, writing, and organizing.
This is the third in a series that updates and extends John McKerley’s essay in the current issue of Labor: Studies in Working Class History, which is freely available for three months, thanks to Duke University Press. The first post is here. I thought it was an important contribution given the uptick of graduate student, faculty and undergraduate organizing. –ed.
This week’s post comes from Jacob Schneyer, who, after leaving Grinnell and the UGSDW, went on to work as an organizer with SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana.
Looking back [on the 2018 interview], I don’t think I was wrong that UGSDW’s formation was unique and unlikely to be replicated elsewhere, but I did underestimate how successful other independent and student unions could be. I think one reason for that might be the number of resources available now about the basic hard skills of organizing – I’m thinking of Jane McAlevey’s “Strike School” [described by McAlevey on as “an online training and networking program for organizers around the world”], and the Emergency Workplace Organizing Committee [a partnership between the Democratic Socialists of America and the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America], for example. Not having experienced organizers to help with those basics was a real challenge for us being independent.On another note, I remember that we were baffled back then that large international unions weren’t enthusiastically putting resources into student worker organizing. That’s begun to change, especially for graduate students, but I think the continued success of UGSDW and other undergrad unions shows there’s still so much room for growth.