Organizing is the heart of the labor movement, and earlier this year Local 802 hosted the AFL-CIO’s Organizing Institute. This three-day immersion takes progressive rank-and-file workers or other unionists and puts them in charge of a simulated campaign. House calls, committee strategies, and active listening are all important themes.
Local 802 sent two of its staff members: Broadway rep Ed Tilghman and jazz rep Todd Weeks. (Tilghman and Weeks are new to 802; they’ll be introduced in Allegro once they pass their six-month probation.)
Both agree that it was an eye-opening experience and very useful training for their new jobs.
“The most valuable part of the experience was in meeting the people who had come to participate,” Tilghman told Allegro. “The college grads, who were going to be sent off to work with a union anywhere in the country, were as idealistic as the steelworkers from Ohio and the taxi-drivers from here in the city.”
Jazz rep Weeks said that he was most inspired by “the degree of commitment of the people in charge of the training sessions.”
Weeks added, “Even though I have a background in theater and music and have seen a lot of great speakers, watching these people get up and speak from the heart was awesome. It gave me the courage to realize that I can make a difference in the lives of a lot of people through structures that in many cases are already in place.”