Jane
McAlevey

Senior Policy Fellow

Phone: (510) 643-8366

janemcalevey@berkeley.edu

Program Areas

Unions & Worker Organizations

Workshops & Leadership Schools

Area of Expertise

Collective bargaining
Union organizing
Research on union avoidance firms
Power structure analysis and strategy
Mission-driven sectors of the economy (health care and education)

About Jane

Jane McAlevey has spent most of her life as an organizer and negotiator. She’s fourth generation union, raised in an activist-union household. She spent the first half of her organizing life working in the community organizing and environmental justice movements and the second half in the union movement. She has led power structure analyses and strategic planning trainings for a wide range of union and community organizations, and has had extensive involvement in globalization and global environmental issues. She worked at the Highlander Research and Education Center as an educator and as deputy director in her early 20’s.

More recently, Jane has added “author and scholar” to her bio. She earned a Ph.D. in 2015 from the City University of New York’s Graduate Center, studying with Frances Fox Piven, after which she was a postdoc at Harvard Law School with the Labor & Worklife Program.

Her third book, A Collective Bargain: Unions, Organizing and the Fight for Democracy, was published by Ecco/HarperCollins in 2020.

    Jane McAleveyand Abby Lawlor

    Turning the Tables: Participation and Power in Negotiations

    A report by Jane McAlevey and Abby Lawlor, illustrates best practices for building the power to win in today’s challenging union climate and features a series of case studies in collective bargaining during the four years under Trump. They cover four key employment sectors: teachers, nurses, hotel workers, and journalists. In each case, workers used high transparency and high participation approaches in contract campaigns to build worker power. Each victory points a path to raising workers’ expectations of what is possible to win at the negotiations table today.

    Jon Wiener

    Amazon Workers: Jane McAlevey

    The Amazon workers on Staten Island have won a historic victory—but now they must prepare to strike, and to win support for their strike from the community power structure. The Nation’s Strikes Correspondent, Jane McAlevey explains why, and how.

    The Nation

    “The Great Resignation” Is a Great Exaggeration

    In The Nation, longtime organizer and scholar Jane McAlevey wrote a postmortem on the campaign. She noted that organizers did not have an accurate count of how many people worked at the site and were more concerned with giving employees a digital platform for expressing their discontent with Amazon than with building grassroots support for a union.

    Commentary by Jane McAlevey in The Nation

    The Amazon Labor Union’s Historic Victory Was the First Step

    But now the real fight begins. Under byzantine US labor law, winning the union election is only step one. At present, the ALU is not even legally certified by the National Labor Relations Board. Without a legally certified union, the employer does not have to commence negotiations. On April 8, Amazon filed objections. This is the standard union buster’s playbook: to delay and outlast the workers, to prevent certification and the ability to get to contract negotiations.

    New York Times

    Amazon Workers Who Won a Union Their Way Open Labor Leaders’ Eyes

    Ms. McAlevey also questioned an approach she called “mobilization,” in which the union takes on an employer primarily through the efforts of a professional staff, consultants and a cadre of activists rather than a large group of rank-and-file workers. “The staffers see themselves, not ordinary people, as the key agents of change,” she wrote.

    Current Affairs

    Organizing Against Precarity in Higher Education

    As Jane McAlevey argues in No Shortcuts, mobilization and advocacy should not replace organizing, which involves mass, long-term involvement, democratic decision-making, and structural change to relations of power. What organized but unrecognized unions are showing is that even without collective bargaining, unions can upset power imbalances and see wins that immediately improve people’s lives.