Legendary Labor Organizer Dead at 59

(TargetDailyNews.com) – A longtime labor activist and organizer died July 7th at age 59 at her home in Muir Beach, California.

Jane F. McAlevey worked with thousands of union employees and workers around the world to teach them how to organize and run an effective union. Mitchell Rotbert, McAlevey’s stepbrother, said the scholar died from multiple myeloma.

The disease is a blood cancer that transforms plasma cells into malignant and invasive cancer cells.

McAlevey held lifelong leftist views and these informed her approach to organizing workers. Unions functioned best, she believed, when they are run from the bottom up by the workers. She saw the organizations as the best solution to achieve economic equality.

She was unapologetically bold, saying “I teach workers to take over their unions and change them.” Most unions, according to McAlevey, don’t effectively organize their members to give them actual “community power.”

From the late 90s through 2008, McAlevey concentrated on campaigns to boost the large labor unions the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and the Service Employees International Union. After that, she began offering consulting services to unions and labor unions around the U.S. They sought her advice on how to boost enthusiasm among members, get new ones to join, and combat anti-union activities by employers.

McAlevey also wrote for the liberal magazine The Nation, which referred to her as its “strikes correspondent.” She was a popular interview guest across traditional media and podcasts, often decrying what she believed was incompetence and laziness in unions, along with union cooperation with companies that don’t have the workers’ best interests in mind.

In addition to her U.S.-focused work, McAlevey collaborated with international leftist groups focused on immigrants’ rights, tenants’ rights, and climate issues. McAlevey was a popular public speaker described as having a dry humor. In 2019 she launched a free online course through the Rose Luxembourg Foundation in Berlin. The course was titled “Organizing for Power,” and over its four years running, more than 36,000 people from at least 130 countries took the course.

McAlevey saw labor activism as bound up with other issues facing low-income people, such as the quality of public schools, affordable housing and transport, and clean, safe neighborhoods.

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