April Month of Troublemaking Workshops
Event at a Glance
It isn’t a conference, but it is a chance to gather with workers from across the country to learn new skills, talk tough challenges, and rekindle troublemaking energy.
Labor Notes will be holding a series of workshops and conversations throughout the month of April via Zoom. The program includes organizing basics, labor and the Green New Deal, caucus building, how to refuse austerity measures, and hearing from Amazon workers who are in the fight to unionize.
Once you register, you will receive a link to choose specific workshops. Sign up early, because some workshops will limit the number of participants.
We will send emails to registrants with links to sessions weekly and the day of the event. Be sure to check all of your email folders.
Cost: $20 for the whole month. Includes access to all workshops until limits are filled.
- Also available: registration plus 50 percent off a one-year subscription to the Labor Notes magazine - $35!
- Reduced registrations at $10 available for those who need it. No one turned away for lack of funds!
Subscription offer valid only for U.S. addresses. Click here to purchase an international subscription.
Webinars and Unlimited Participation Workshops (these workshops have no attendance caps). Click links for workshop descriptions.
- Don’t Be Fooled: Your Job Won’t Love You Back (Thursday April 1: 7 PM EDT)
- Building a Caucus and Transforming Your Union (Thursday April 15: 7 PM EDT)
- Direct Action Organizing for Health Care Workers (Sunday April 18: 8 PM EDT)
- Past Practice Grievances with Robert Schwartz (Monday April 19: 7 PM EDT)
- Austerity: The Myth and How to Fight It (Thursday April 22: 7 PM EDT)
- Organizing at Amazon: Lessons Learned and the Work Ahead (Saturday April 24: 4 PM EDT)
- Labor and Climate Change Solutions (Sunday April 25: 6 PM EDT) *note new time*
- National Educators Call: Assessing and Building Power in the Pandemic and Beyond (Tuesday April 27: 8 PM EDT)
- How to Defend Your Co-workers in Disciplinary Meetings (Thursday April 29: 6 PM EDT)
Skills and Limited Participation Workshops (these workshops have attendance caps):
Secrets of a Successful Organizer Parts 1, 2 and 3 - a series of nuts-and-bolts organizing trainings based on our book, Secrets of a Successful Organizer:
- Beating Apathy:
- CLOSED - Saturday April 3 (12-2 PM EDT)
- CLOSED - Wednesday April 7 (7-9 PM EDT)
- Assembling Your Dream Team:
- CLOSED - Saturday April 10 (12-2PM EDT)
- CLOSED - Wednesday April 14 (7-9 PM EDT)
- Turning an Issue Into a Campaign:
- CLOSED - Saturday April 17 (12-2 PM EDT)
- CLOSED - Wednesday April 21 (7-9 PM EDT)
Don’t Be Fooled: Your Job Won’t Love You Back (Thursday April 1: 7 PM EDT)
Whether it's enduring poor treatment in the name of "being part of the family," or working for "exposure" and "experience," workers in various industries—from overworked teachers and nurses to nonprofit employees and even professional athletes—are being pushed to make sacrifices for the privilege of being able to do what we love. But how does the narrative that we should love our jobs keep us from seeing how we are exploited? How can we organize to fight back and win a world not constructed around work? Join Labor Notes for a book talk and panel discussion with Sarah Jaffe, author of Work Won’t Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone. She’ll be joined by Amanda Posson of Every Texan United (a Nonprofit Professional Employees Union local), Nantina Vgontzas of the AI Now Institute at New York University, and a teacher activist (TBA).
Building a Caucus and Transforming Your Union (Thursday April 15: 7 PM EDT)
Drawing on the example of CORE in transforming the Chicago Teachers Union, teachers, health care workers, postal workers, and more are building caucuses to push for more fighting unions. How can caucus work build a more democratic, rank-and-file union and grow our power? How do caucuses start? What are some of the pitfalls to be aware of? Panelists: Shira Cohen, Working Educators Caucus, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; Andrew Solar-Greco and Rhiannon Maton, Member Action Coalition, United University Professors, State University of New York (SUNY); Patrick Weisansal II, Communications Workers Local 1168; Ryan Gray and Jamie Partridge, Portland Caucus of Rank-and-File Carriers, National Association of Letter Carriers, Branch 82.
Direct Action Organizing for Health Care Workers (Sunday April 18: 8PM EDT)
Join health care workers talking about ways they built power at work through organizing direct actions. Panelists include nurses on strike (six weeks in!) against one of the biggest healthcare corporations in the country, a telecommunications worker who organized to win back the COVID safety precautions the hospital had initially provided, and a RN who worked with educators and other school nurses to stay out of unsafe school buildings. Moderators: Elizabeth Lalasz (RN, Illinois Nurses Association, Chicago, IL) and Sarah Hughes, Labor Notes. Panelists: Marie Ritacco and Bill Lahey (RNs, Massachusetts Nurses Association, Worcester, MA); Tammy Wiggins (Telecommunications, National Union of Healthcare Workers, Napa, CA); Dennis Kosuth (RN, Chicago Teachers Union, Illinois Nurses Association, Chicago, IL)
Past Practice Grievances with Robert Schwartz (Monday April 19: 7 PM EDT)
Past practice is one of the most frequently cited concepts in labor relations. In this workshop, retired union attorney Robert M. Schwartz, author of How to Win Past Practice Grievances, will discuss the subject in a straightforward manner, identifying the five elements of a bonafide past practice and when a practice has, and does not have, contractual status.
Austerity: The Myth and How to Fight It (Thursday April 22: 7 PM EDT)
The Covid-19 pandemic, while unique, has created a familiar crisis in the form of shrinking tax revenues and demands for concessions from workers. In this panel, we'll hear about how austerity is a political choice—not a material necessity—as well as how some unions are fighting back against austerity-driven concessions. Panelists: Geva Hickman-Johnson, high school English teacher and bargaining committee member with the Prince George's County Education Association, John Courtney, president, ATU Local 265, Anneta Argyres, president of the Professional Staff Union (MTA/NEA) and director of the Labor Extension Program at UMass Boston.
Organizing at Amazon: Lessons Learned and the Work Ahead (Saturday April 24: 4 PM EDT)
Amazon is now the second-largest employer in the U.S., and a presence everywhere in the lives of Americans, reshaping the retail and logistics landscape. This panel will provide an overview of the company’s operations and growth and the threat it poses to members of the Teamsters, postal unions, UFCW, ILWU, and other unions, as well as working conditions generally. We’ll hear from workers on what it’s like to work at Amazon, and about organizing in the company’s warehouses. Moderator: Maximillian Alvarez, Editor-in-Chief of The Real News Network and host of Working People podcast. Panelists: Peter Olney, retired organizing director, International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), Lauren Kaori Gurley, senior staff writer at Motherboard, VICE's tech site, and a representative from Amazonians United NYC.
Labor and Climate Change Solutions (Sunday April 25: 6 PM EDT)
In the past few years, the gravity of the climate crisis has become ever more clear even as policymakers and corporations refuse to act. At the grassroots level, labor has become increasingly active in finding a solution, but much remains to be done. What are local union activists doing to build a more sustainable workplace and world, and how can rising union activism connect with the global struggle to stop catastrophic climate change? Panelists: David Yao, Vice President, Seattle local, APWU, Greg Nammacher, Chief of Staff, SEIU Local 26, and Lexie, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice.
National Educators Call: Assessing and Building Power in the Pandemic and Beyond. (Tuesday April 27: 8 PM EDT)
What have we learned? What are our next struggles? Join preK-12 educators from across the country to identify the struggles ahead and discuss how to use lessons learned from the pandemic going forward.
How to Defend Your Co-workers in Disciplinary Meetings (Thursday April 29: 6 PM EDT)
Stewards are the backbone of every union, defending their co-workers when they are needed most. In this workshop we will review how stewards can use their special rights and protections to effectively advocate for their coworkers in investigatory interviews. We will also discuss how to handle supervisors who are trying to put you off or trip you up. Facilitators: Chris Brooks and Stefanie Frey, NewsGuild of New York. Note: Registration is now CLOSED for this session.
Are you beating your head against the wall trying to get other workers involved? This workshop is for you. Hear success stories from those who’ve turned their workplaces around and turned apathy into action. Learn practical organizing tools for engaging your co-workers, taking action, and getting results.
Assembling Your Dream Team
Your workplace may feel like an unorganized mess, but the truth is you’re not starting from zero. There’s organization there already—though it might have nothing to do with the union. Learn how to map out the existing networks in your workplace, identify the leaders in those networks, and then knit them together into an organizing committee.
Turning an Issue into a Campaign
Everybody has complaints and frustrations, but an organizer has the power to turn problems into opportunities. Learn how to sort through the issues you hear from co-workers, bring people together, and make a plan to solve them.