121 minutes | Mar 15th 2020

A master class in organizing

The Bernie Sanders campaign is an organizing tour-de-force relative to the Joe Biden campaign; yet the latter has won primary after primary — with even higher turnouts than 2016. So does organizing even work? And, if so, what went wrong?

Jane McAlevey has organized hundreds of thousands of workers on the frontlines of America’s labor movement. She is also a Senior Policy Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Labor Center and the author of three books on organizing, including, most recently, A Collective Bargain: Unions, Organizing, and the Fight for Democracy.

McAlevey doesn’t pull her punches. She thinks the left builds political power all wrong. She thinks people are constantly mistaking “mobilizing” for “organizing,” and that social media has taught a generation of young activists the worst possible lessons. She thinks organized labor’s push for “card check” was a mistake, but that there really is a viable path back to a strong labor movement. And since McAlevey is, above all, a teacher and an organizer, she offers what amounts to a master class in organizing — one relevant not just to building political power, but to building anything.

To McAlevey, organizing, at its core, is about something very simple, and very close to the heart of this show: how do you talk to people who may not agree with you such that you can truly hear them, and they can truly hear you? This conversation ran long, but it ran long because it was damn good.

References:

No Shortcuts by Jane McAlevey

Raising Expectations and Raising Hell by Jane McAlevey

Book recommendations:

Democracy May Not Exist But We'll Miss it When its Gone by Astra Taylor

I've Got the Light of Freedom Charles M. Payne

On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder

New to the show? Want to check out Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)

Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com

Credits:

Engineer - Cynthia Gil

Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld

Researcher - Roge Karma

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices