Skills to Win

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To rise to the immense challenges ahead, organizations must double down on fundamental organizing skills to build people power.

Six Wednesday evenings from 5-7PM (Pacific Time)
September 20 through October 25, 2023

Program Cost: $1,500 per team of 20 or more

About this Workshop

Working families in California and throughout the country and world face serious ongoing challenges. COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on the working and home lives of countless workers, especially women and workers of color. Health care costs are still increasing even during a once-in-a-century pandemic. Millions face housing insecurity and even the risk of eviction, and retirement is out of reach for many older workers. Building worker power is as necessary and urgent as ever and support for unions is at record high levels. At the same time, efforts to make it harder for workers and communities of color to organize and exercise power are ramping up. Unions and community organizations must work smarter and more strategically to organize against these threats and win dignity and economic justice on and off the job.

Why does this training matter now?
To rise to the immense challenges ahead, organizations must double down on organizing to build worker power. The Skills to Win Workshop is a six-week series aimed at developing fundamental organizing skills. It is intended for rank and file members and staff of unions, worker associations, worker centers, and community organizations that are embarking on, or in the midst of, organizing campaigns. Organizing workers, their families, and their entire communities, complemented by other components in a broad tactical repertoire, will be the focus over the eight weeks we spend together.

“Who is this training for?”
If you are planning to launch a campaign of any kind this fall, this training is for you. “Campaign,” includes: new organizing (organizing not-yet-unionized workers or tenants); reorganizing an existing group of workers who might be heading into negotiations or community members taking on an important electoral effort; or retooling how you think about grievance handling from a legal or servicing approach to a more direct action approach. Skills to Win is designed to be immediately applicable to the urgent task of winning on everything, such as mid-contract health and safety demands, inflation-adjusted raises, rent forgiveness and stabilization, anti-eviction protections, and more.

Learning Outcomes and Format
Once a week for two hours on Zoom, Skills to Win will focus on how to build high participation organizations, including how to:

  • Identify organic leaders who can move your base
  • Have successful organizing conversations
  • Learn how to chart the workplace, neighborhood, or any other collective structure
  • Analyze and understand power dynamics to inform your strategy
  • Integrate issues in the workplace and the community to build more resilient working-class communities

Skills to Win is role play, exercise, and practice-oriented. Each week will consist of an opening plenary with a variety of lectures, fishbowl discussions, and presentations from different labor and community organizers. Participants will have time in breakout groups with their organizations (and sometimes across organizations) to work together on exercises and on their specific campaigns. In addition, there will be practical homework in between sessions that advances existing or planned campaigns. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about strategies and tactics across sectors and types of organizations.

Organizing Your Team
Because organizing is a team endeavor, not a solo sport, we are requiring organizations to create a team of at least 20 people in order to register for this training. In addition, for every team of 20, organizations need to select at least group coordinator to lead exercises in their group. Organizations may send as many participants as they would like provided there is at least one group coordinator in each group of 20. Group coordinators will attend a two-hour training prior to the workshop to be trained on best practices for using Zoom, leading discussions, and facilitating the curriculum. Anyone is eligible to serve as a group coordinator if they are committed and well organized, and have access to a pro-level Zoom account. If your team is planning to have Spanish speaking participants, you must provide a group coordinator who can communicate course logistics and facilitate exercises in Spanish. We will provide the materials and interpretation in the main sessions. Find out more about being a group coordinator

The workshop will be led by Jane McAlevey and Danielle Mahones of the Labor Center. It will be offered in English and Spanish.

The application deadline is August 29. Applicants will be notified of their status by August 31.

For more information, contact: Kirsten Bottles Willer,


Jane McAlevey

Senior Policy Fellow

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Danielle Mahones

Director, Leadership Development Program

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