Organizing Models for Social Justice in the City - United Workers Handout (Leadership Development Processes)

Organizing Models for Social Justice in the City - United Workers Handout (Leadership Development Processes)

Leadership Development Processes of the United Workers

Step 1: Outreach and Entry

Point of Entry – Focal Point Campaign
Outreach at place of work or through friend/relative involved in the organization. The focal point campaign provides the point of entry and all other points of contact are related to the focal point campaign.

Home Visit Conversation
Leadership Organizer and person talk about working conditions, campaign and build relationship; usually with an invitation to an event or activity or other ask is made.

Leadership Forum
Person attends a Leadership Forum meeting, protest, march, community building event or other action of the organization for the first time. This is followed up and repeated as person decides if they want to join the organization and be part of its human rights mission.

Testimonials and Witnessing
Person shares their experiences and listens to the experiences of others at Leadership Forum meetings and other events and activities.

Step 2: Membership and Participation

After participating in a certain number of events, person decides if they want to become a member of the organization. As a member the person may vote in elections to Leadership Committee, serve on Leadership Committee or a standing committee and have a voice in the running of the organization. Non-members are welcome to participate in Leadership Forum for as long they would like. Membership is restricted to persons who are poor and who demonstrate the 3 C’s of leadership (commitment, consciousness, and co-operation).

Unity Actions
Members develop strategy, plan and execute actions related to the focal point campaign. Unity Actions are member-generated and provide a way for new members to be involved in the planning of an action from the ground up. This repeats the experiences of the founding members, who did not come into an organization with fully developed multi-year campaigns at the level of state-wide economic and political networks.

Community Building Actions
Members take part in making meals, setting up events, getting the word out about events and planning community building activities. Members are also eat meals together, sing and prayer together and build community within the context of human rights organizing.

Campaign Unity Committee
Members who work at the target employer meet to discuss the progress of the campaign and have the power to vote on demands, negotiation mandates and whether or not to continue or end a campaign.

Human Rights Committee
Members who work at the same employer together meet together to resolve conflicts with their employer and to improve local working conditions.

Step 3: Leadership

Leadership Day
Members meet to share feedback with and hear reports from the Leadership Committee; to hold the Leadership Committee to account. Members elect the Leadership Committee. Members also engage in community building and leadership development activities.

Standing Committees
Leaders participate in standing committees, making recommendations to the Leadership Committee and carrying out core planning and execution tasks related to the organization’s strategic plan. Staff and leaders provide mentoring and training to develop organizing and leadership skills.

Barn Raising Actions
Leaders participate in raising funds to support the United Workers. These are member-generated actions with heavy community building component, such as neighborhood car wash. Funds raised will build the Harriet Tubman House, and later will sustain the operations of the organization.

Staying on Track Retreat
Leaders meet to prepare for an intense action requiring a demonstration of thoughtful and reflective commitment to the poor people’s economic human rights movement to end poverty. The theme of this event is “Underground Railroad to Freedom from Poverty.”

Fall Action – Solidarity
Members witness and stand in solidarity with members who take risks to change the power relationships between low-wage workers and powers-that-be within the context of the focal point campaign (see “Fall Action – Willing Sacrifice” described in step 4).

Human Rights Dinner
Celebration of human rights values, recognition of leaders from membership and allies, focus on building our resource base and community building activity. Leaders plan and execute the event from the group up, selecting theme and message. Close allies, Just Society Sustainers and members participate in this annual celebration.

Spring Action
Externally focused event that attracts attention and allies to the focal point campaign and that involves allies in the campaign. Leaders work with allies to develop ally skills as organizers working with the poor.

Looking Forward Retreat
Leaders meet to examine lessons learned from the past year that can be applied to the strategic planning process

Human Rights Council & Human Rights Code of Conduct
Human Rights Committees elect representatives to the Human Rights Council, which unifies the focal point campaign, develops community within the campaign area, builds solidarity between workplaces and articulates human rights values through the Human Rights Code of Conduct.

Step 4: Leadership Skills & Deepening Commitment

Fall Action – Willing Sacrifice
Some leaders who are able choose to make a required and willing sacrifice as part of the fall action. This is always a choice that is made free from pressure or expectation, but is also required in order for power to shift in ways required to secure the campaign demands. Other leaders, members and allies witness this and stand in solidarity to make sure that the acts of willing sacrifice are effective in shifting power as intended.

Fall Tour
Leaders and key allies carry the message of the focal point campaign to mobilize for future actions. The tour is an intensive educational, community building and leadership development exercise.

Co-operative Development Project
Leaders learn how to form co-operative enterprises that provide livable incomes and work with dignity through democratic and collective economic action.

Step 5: Leadership Committee

Leadership Committee
Leaders are elected on the decision making body of the organization and receive skills training in media and political analysis, communications, organizing, movement building and history of social justice, finance and fundraising, legal issues of organizing and other required skills to serve on the Leadership Committee.

Step 6: Community Organizing Skills

New Organizers Project
Three-year paid training program that develops skills required to be an effective community organizer of the movement to end poverty. All aspects of community organizing are covered in this intense training program, including literacy, political analysis, organizational behavior, law, finance and other skills and knowledge required to create and sustain organizations as part of the poor people’s economic human rights movement to end poverty. Training includes Spanish/English instruction.

Staff Collective
Leaders with the required skills (such as graduates of the New Organizers Project) are recruited to the Staff Collective to work full-time as leadership organizers of the United Workers.