LGWR Students Join Troublemakers School in Ithaca

The event, organized by Labor Notes, was billed as “a day of skill-building workshops, education, and strategy discussions to put some movement back in the labor movement.”
LGWR Students Join Troublemakers School in Ithaca

LGWR Students (from left) Allison Petonic, Sherif Olanrewaju, Pnehwon Harris, and Kofi Asianowa attend a workshop at the Upstate New York Troublemakers School.

By Manuel Rosaldo, Postdoctoral Scholar, Center for Global Workers' Rights

At 5:30am on Saturday, March 23, eight groggy-eyed LGWR students began the long drive from State College to Ithaca for the Upstate New York Troublemakers School. Three and a half hours later, they received an emotional boost (and some coffee) when they arrived to the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union Hall. There, they joined some 200 electricians, taxi drivers, teachers, nurses, coffee baristas, and other worker activists in a standing-room-only auditorium. The environment was electrifying! The event, organized by Labor Notes, was billed as “a day of skill-building workshops, education, and strategy discussions to put some movement back in the labor movement.”

The opening panel, aptly titled “expect the unexpected,” focused on the recent U.S. strike wave and other surprising forms of worker organizing. Scott Slawson of the United Electrical Workers gave a riveting account of a strike by nearly 2,000 Locomotive Plant Workers in Eerie, Pennsylvania. For nine days in February, the workers maintained a picket in sub-zero weather, successfully fending off their employers’ efforts to impose a two-tier wage system. Participants spent the rest of the day in workshops on topics ranging from Race and Labor to Mapping Your Workplace. LGWR student Ekin Ozturk said that her favorite workshop was Using Satire, Parody, and Humor in Organizing because “we don't do much of that in our campaigns in Turkey, so I really enjoyed hearing about all the creative and fun ideas that organizers use in actions against employers.” Her colleague, Bashiratu Kamal said that “the trouble makers school helped in naming 'invisible' acts that violate workers rights in my country like wage theft. It also re-affirmed the need to have concerted strategies on organizing.”