Conference 2014 Schedule Now Available Online!

The full schedule of workshops, sessions, and performances for the 2014 Labor Notes Conference (April 4-6, Chicago) is now available online!

Our biennial conference is a gathering of the foot-soldiers of the big and exciting struggles, but also of the unsung heroes whose battles never make the news. It combines the seasoned leaders, eager to train the next generation, with that next generation, eager to pick up where others left off.

At the same time that labor as a whole is slipping, the troublemaking wing is growing, if this conference is a gauge.

At the largest Labor Notes Conference yet, folks will absorb both 101s and advanced classes. We’ll debate what works and what doesn’t. We’ll take time to step back and remind each other what unions are for.

Here are a few samples:

Labor and Independent Politics
Hear about worker-focused political efforts outside the Democratic Party, including some that have won office. How were these efforts built? How do they sustain themselves? What is their relationship to the local labor movement? What are the pros and cons of an electoral strategy?

  • Jeff Crosby, New Lynn (Massachusetts), North Shore Central Labor Council
  • Mike Parker, Richmond Progressive Alliance and candidate for mayor of Richmond, California
  • Amisha Patel, Grassroots Collaborative
  • Kshama Sawant, Seattle City Council member
  • Facilitator: Brandon Johnson, Chicago Teachers Union

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Organizing along Walmart’s Supply Chain
The world’s largest private employer creates miserable working conditions from its suppliers to its stores. But workers are pressuring Walmart on all sides, making the giant nervous. Hear from Walmart store and warehouse workers who struck, farmworkers who extracted an agreement to raise pay, and Bangladeshi garment workers, one of whom endured the Rana Plaza catastrophe.

  • Aleya Akter, Bangladesh Garment & Industrial Workers Federation
  • Mike Compton, Warehouse Workers Organizing Committee
  • Charmaine Givens-Thomas, Linda Haluska, and Marie Pat Tifft, Organization United for Respect at Walmart
  • Aklima Khanam, Rana Plaza survivor, Bangladesh
  • Facilitator: Daniel Schlademan, Making Change at Walmart

Secrets of a Successful Organizer
How do you get your co-workers to join you in building union strength and taking on the boss at work? Learn proven strategies that get more members involved. This workshop, perfect for new activists or up-and-coming leaders, will cover the basics of successful organizing. We will examine how to have effective organizing conversations, identify issues in the workplace, and spot other potential leaders.

  • Joe Fahey, former co-chair, Teamsters for a Democratic Union
  • Nicholas Bedell, Transport Workers 100

Public Sector Strikes
Public sector workers walk a tightrope when threatening to strike. Walking off the job may be the best way to defend hard-won gains, but the risk of provoking public outrage and political payback is all too real. We’ll review recent strikes by Chicago teachers, BART transit workers in the Bay Area, and University of California service and health care workers. How do unions get the public on our side and keep them there?

  • Larry Bradshaw, Service Employees 1021
  • Lakeisha Collins, AFSCME 3299
  • Chris Finn, Amalgamated Transit Union 1555
  • Kristine Mayle, Chicago Teachers Union
  • Facilitator: Joe Burns, author, Strike Back: Using the Militant Tactics of Labor’s Past to Reignite Public Sector Unionism Today

Immigration Reform: Where Do We Go from Here?
With comprehensive immigration reform stalled in Congress, activists are divided on the best strategy to bring relief to the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. While some continue to focus energy on the controversial bipartisan plan that passed in the Senate and could pass in the House if allowed to come to the floor, others are pressuring President Obama to put a moratorium on deportations. Learn about what unions, worker centers, and individual activists see as the next steps.

  • David Bacon, photographer, writer, activist
  • Yanira Merino, Labor Notes Policy Committee
  • Jorge Mujica, Arise Chicago
  • Baldemar Velasquez, Farm Labor Organizing Committee
  • Representative, Immigrant Youth Justice League/Undocumented Illinois
  • Facilitator: Guillermo Perez, Pittsburgh LCLAA, Steelworkers 3657

Building a Reform Caucus in Your Union
If you don’t like how things are going in the union, change them—which is easier said than done. Hear about union dissidents in the Chicago Teachers who made an ordinary local into a fighting union, Boeing Machinists who are challenging their national union over pushing a bad contract, and graduate assistants in California whose caucus made systemwide change.

  • Nick Williams, Teamsters 551
  • Al Ramirez, Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators (CORE), Chicago Teachers Union
  • Shannon Ryker, Rosie’s Machinists 751
  • Facilitator: Ken Paff, Teamsters for a Democratic Union

These are only a few of the opportunities to learn, share, and recharge. Plus, we've planned a wonderful lineup of music, visual art, and even our first-ever karaoke night. Browse the full schedule here and get ready! And if you’re not yet registered, now’s the time.