JWJ Mass. Organizing and Leadership Training
Last weekend Jobs with Justice hosted a 3-day training in Auburn, MA. National Jobs with Justice and Massachusetts Jobs With Justice leaders, leared and shared insight on Jobs With Justice coalitions’ experiences, campaigns, and lessons, and broadened our consciousness and practice of being part of a statewide and national network and movement.
This three-day, experiential training provided practical organizing skills and tools and promoted a shared political and economic analysis of working people’s struggle for justice against the corporate agenda that extracts wealth from workers, families, communities, and our natural environment. The training is grounded in the principles of solidarity, building long-term reciprocal relationships among and between diverse constituencies, direct action, and mobilization. It builds our practical organizing and campaign skills, creates shared organizing language and tools, and trains participants to understand the self-interest of our opponents and the skills we need to build our power, craft our campaign and strategy, and win.
Training sessions include topics:
Building relationships through 1-on-1s
Understanding, building, and using power
Facilitating effective meetings
Defining or “cutting” issues out of problems to develop a significant and winnable campaign and strategy
Doing a Power Analysis and understanding self-interest
Let’s be honest, the last thing you want to do after a full week of work is go to three days of training over the weekend. I’m sure that’s what a lot of us were thinking before we got to the National Jobs with Justice Organizing and Leadership Training, but I can guarantee you that none us felt that way as the training finished on Sunday. This training brought folks from all over Massachusetts and Rhode Island together to work deeply in honing our organizing skills in a way that builds movements, instead of as short-lived reactions to injustice. Through my own experience in organizing, I have been in very few rooms that encompassed such a diversity of experiences and backgrounds. We had young people sitting next to retirees, seasoned organizers who have been doing this work for decades next to folks for whom these were completely new experiences, the room had folks from labor, educators, folks from community organizations and students all coming together to learn with and from JWJ affiliated facilitators from all over the country.
One of the things that I often find lacking in a lot of organizing trainings is that we just go over concepts. In many of the training I’ve attended, understanding how to put these concepts or ideas to work is treated as an afterthought. This training was completely different. Throughout the three days, we were able to not only learn the tools JWJ organizers use in their campaigns, but we were also encouraged to put these concepts to work, both through real-life campaigns the facilitators had been a part of, and also through thinking about the work we do every day. I cannot say enough good things about the trainers, as they made the MTA meeting room we were in a place where we could make mistakes, learn from them and work through the often-difficult scenarios that were put in front of us together. I feel like attendees not only left with a shiny certificate of completion (although that was a nice bonus!) but also with real skills they can continue to build on and share with their communities. I could list all the skills and tools we went over, but I think what made this training special was the way we went over these concepts and how we operationalized them instead of leaving them as abstract things we may or may not use.
I really hope this training is continued and that as all the folks that were able to attend go back to our communities and our organizations, we are able to share everything we learned and spread the wealth of knowledge we were given. When this training is offered again, as painful as it might be, try to commit one weekend if you are able because what you will learn and the connections you will be able to make will be transformational.
Juan P Blanco, UMASS Boston
I was hesitant at first to do another training having done several great trainings and conferences with the MTA and feeling like I needed to just do the work of organizing. I’m so glad I did because this JWJ training was intensely focused on this work: analyzing our values, relationships, self interests and power as well as those of our opponents in order to design campaigns that will win. We used this process in small groups where we were given a detailed practical problem with all the messy competing interests that we face in real life and asked to design a campaign. This was a big challenge and we but we learned from our mistakes to filter the noise and focus on our values and the important realities that frame the issue. In this process we developed a real sense of camaraderie and accomplishment. The trainers were clear on our need to make sure we are organizing effectively because the stakes are high. They were also very supportive and let us know that we all have made mistakes but we grow and learn in struggle. Many people come to organizing for labor and social justice with a desire to uphold human values and an awareness of how corporate interests are violating those values on many issues. What we learned in this training is to center our values on people over profit while we create and win campaigns that further those values.
- Joe Herosy, MTA & JWJ Organizer