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imagesI want to share my story of how I came to be a waitress, a union member, and eventually, a Leftist committed to changing the world. I grew up in Philadelphia and was raised in a comfortable working class family. We were comfortable because my parents, a public school teacher and public school nurse, were union members. My best friend, my older sister, struggled with drugs, depression and school, and started working as a waitress at the age of 19. I went to public school and performed well, so I got a scholarship to go to college. In college, I was introduced to political ideas and union organizing. It inspired me to become a student organizer. Following college, I took a lesson from my sister who encouraged me to get a job if I was serious about worker rights. I decided to do union organizing as a worker so I could understand what it meant to fight for workers’ rights when my own job was on the line.

Published in Leftist at Work
In this piece, reposted from Alternet, Stephen Lerner learns from Brazil to show how we can grow stronger, more creative, and help people trapped in unhealthy relationships free themselves from those who have power over them.
Photo Credit: Sindicato dos Bancários SP

I was raised in a country where tradition, custom, and economics often define who is on top, who is in charge and who is powerless. My world was turned upside down in a recent trip to Brazil. Maybe it was the all-night plane flight, and the late nights driven by that powerful Brazilian drink Cachaca. Maybe it was the heat and the passionate people from CONTRAF and the Sindicato dos Bancários de São Paulo (more on who they are later) who taught me so much.

They shared something with me that could alter the lives of Americans who aren't afraid to have their system and world rocked. I witnessed and experienced role reversals, energy and passion that would shock most people in the United States. Through their experiences and vision they convinced me a better world is possible. 

Published in Labor

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Leftist at Work Column

The Leftist at Work column is a space for leftists to talk about the ways in which they organize in their workplace – whether it is how they talk with coworkers about political issues, how they are trying to build or revitalize a union, or how they orient their political perspectives to sync with their daily jobs. Some leftists find themselves confronting issues they didn’t expect would come up in their work. Other people find that they work for a non-profit or union that constrains their range of political activities. We’ll hear from organizers that struggle to balance their radical politics with the realities of working for an organization with more of a reform orientation. We’ll also hear from people who may work in an unionized workplace but try to bring their broader politics into the workplace – such as anti-racism, anti-war, or pro-immigrant rights.

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Organizing Upgrade 2012 / Built by Union Labor

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