Jane McAlevey

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Jane Frances McAlevey
Jane McAlevey Head Shot
Jane McAlevey c. 2014
Born (1964-10-12) October 12, 1964 (age 54)
ResidenceSan Francisco Bay Area and NYC
EducationState University of New York at Buffalo (B.A.)
Graduate Center, CUNY (Ph.D.)
Harvard Law School (Post Doc)
Occupationunion, environmental and community organizer, scholar, author, political commentator
Years active1984–present

Jane F. McAlevey is a union organizer, scholar, author, and political commentator.[1][2][3] She has contributed to The New York Times, The Nation, Jacobin, In These Times, Catalyst, Politics & Society, AlterNet and other publications.

She has written two books about income inequality and climate change: No Shortcuts - Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age (Oxford University Press, 2016) and Raising Expectations and Raising Hell (Verso Books, 2012)

Her third book is due to be published by Harper Collins in 2019.

She is also writing a fourth book, Striking Back, to be published by Verso Books in 2020.

McAlevey has appeared on numerous television [4] and radio shows [5][6][7] as well as podcasts. [8][9][10]

Early background[edit]

McAlevey was the youngest of nine children. Her mother died of BRCA#1 breast cancer when she was not yet in kindergarten. Her father was an executive of Rockland County, New York.[11]

In high school, she organized student strikes and walk-outs over issues ranging from sexist gym requirements to stopping nuclear energy to the possible reinstatement of the draft. In the spring of 1984, while at the State University of New York at Buffalo, she was elected student body president and ran with a slate of young radicals who swept all student government seats. She went on to be the president of the statewide student union in New York’s public university system (called the Student Association of the State University of New York (SASU).[12] She orchestrated the takeover of the SUNY state university headquarters, which resulted in the SUNY trustees voting to divest the university system from entities doing business in South Africa. It was the largest act of divestiture anyone in the USA at that time.[13]

Environmental activist to labor union organizer[edit]

After traveling and working in Central America, McAlevey was recruited to move to California to work out of David Brower’s new Earth Island Institute on a project aimed at educating the environmental movement in the United States about the ecological consequences of U.S. military and economic policy in Central America. She was co-director of EPOCA, the Environmental Project on Central America, one of Earth Island's projects.[14] After two years working on coalition building in the US and the international environmental movement, she was recruited to work at the Highlander Research and Education Center in New Market, Tennessee, where she helped create a joint program between the Highlander Center and the National Toxics Campaign on globalization.

Labor organizer & contract negotiator[edit]

After the New Voices leadership came to power at the AFL-CIO in 1996, she was recruited by senior AFL-CIO leaders to work for their new organizing department and head up an experimental multi-union campaign in Stamford Connecticut.[15] The Stamford Organizing Project, her first foray into union organizing, developed a model for rank & file worker-based social movement unionism that McAlevey calls the “whole worker organizing approach.” Rather than unions focusing only on workplace issues, this approach requires equally intense union-based organizing around the many issues afflicting the working class. The key to the method is to deliberately connect workers' non-workplace issues to their relationships in their families and communities. Union members draw on their relationships to their own churches and faith-based institutions, sports clubs, social groups of all kinds, and help carry success on a broad range of issues from the workplace into their own communities and local politics.

From the AFL-CIO she was recruited to become the national Deputy Director for Strategic Campaigns of the Health Care Division of the SEIU (2002 to 2004). From there she was hired by SEIU Nevada, a statewide union, as their Executive Director and Chief Negotiator in 2004. From 2004 to 2006, the Nevada local had more hospital organizing wins than any other SEIU local. The Nevada local also reached the highest membership level in a right to work state in the history of the SEIU (more than 70% union wide), leading to unprecedented success in Nevada including achieving fully employer-paid family healthcare, preventing the rollback of public pensions, stopping and in some cases reversing two-tier collective bargaining agreements, and using an approach to contract negotiations that gives every worker the right to sit in on their workplace negotiations.[16]


  • Raising Expectations and Raising Hell, My Decade Fighting for the Labor Movement, ISBN 9781781683156, published by Verso in 2012.
  • No Shortcuts - Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age, ISBN 9780190624712, published by Oxford University Press in 2016.


  1. ^ Guttenplan, D.D. (February 7, 2017). "The Labor Movement Must Learn These Lessons From the Election". The Nation. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  2. ^ Brian Lehrer (June 25, 2018). "The Case for Unions". The Brian Lehrer Show. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  3. ^ Finn, Robin (November 9, 2000). "PUBLIC LIVES; In 15 Mug Shots, a Model of Disobedience". The New York Times.
  4. ^ Chris Hayes (December 18, 2012). "Heartland of labor movement now 'right-to-work'". Up With Chris Hayes. MSNBC. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  5. ^ Christopher Lydon (September 3, 2018). "The Real Resistance is at Work". Radio Open Source. WBUR. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  6. ^ Sam Seder (October 27, 2016). "Jane McAlevey: No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age". The Majority Report. Majority Report Radio. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  7. ^ John Fuselgang (July 5, 2018). "Tell Me Everything". Insight. SiriusXM. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  8. ^ Jon Wiener (March 2, 2018). "The Janus Case" (Podcast). The Nation Podcast. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  9. ^ Sarah Jaffe (March 28, 2018). "Striking against austerity and the Right, with Jane McAlevey" (Podcast). Interviews for Resistance. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  10. ^ Sarah Jaffe and Michelle Chen (October 28, 2016). "Organizing for Power, with Jane McAlevey" (Podcast). Belabored. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  11. ^ Anderson, Scott B. (November 4, 1985). "Ramapo Offers Growth Lesson for South Florida". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  12. ^ Vellela, Tony (December 19, 1986). "Student Activism in the '80s and '90s". New Voices. p. 194. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  13. ^ Charny, Benjamin (September 25, 1985). "SUNY Board to Trustees Votes to Divest South Africa Funds". Statesman. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  14. ^ Deborah McCarthy Auriffeille; Daniel Faber (1 September 2005). Foundations for Social Change: Critical Perspectives on Philanthropy and Popular Movements. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 183–185. ISBN 978-0-7425-8043-5. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  15. ^ Steve Early (November 2013). Save Our Unions. NYU Press. p. 238. ISBN 978-1-58367-428-4. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  16. ^ Coolican, Patrick (December 10, 2006). "New face of labor has heart, drive".

External links[edit]