On Tuesday, the Student Labor Alliance, RI Jobs with Justice, and others will be hosting Stewart Acuff. List 120 (64 College St.) at 8pm. Acuff is an awesome speaker, and the way-left national director of organizing for the AFL-CIO. With elections on the horizon, and the recent split in the AFL-CIO — because of organizing strategy — it’s an especially interesting time to here what he has to say.
As organizing director, Acuff coordinates strategies to help working men and women join and form unions across the federation’s 53 member unions. He has been a community organizer and union organizer for 25 years, except for a brief stint as a truck driver. From 1977 to 1982, he worked as a community organizer in Missouri, Texas, Tennessee and New Hampshire for organizations affiliated with ACORN and Citizen Action.
In 1982, he joined the union movement as the organizing coordinator for the Service Employees International Union in Texas, where he was responsible for a campaign in which employees of 12 Beverly Enterprises nursing homes organized into the SEIU. In 1985, he became executive director of the Georgia State Employees Union/SEIU Local 1985. He helped build a union of 2,500 state workers despite the fact that public employees in Georgia had no collective bargaining rights, no dues check-off, no rights to meet and confer and no provisions for union recognition.