With the rapid rise of worker centers and alternate ways to gain a voice on the job, a traditional union is no longer the only way to organize and bargain for paid sick leave, a raise and other workplace rights. Just look at the Walmart strikers and restaurant workers speaking out about the need for paid sick leave. Worker centers representing domestic and food service workers and groups like the Dancers’ Alliance and Working America, the AFL-CIO's community affiliate, are expanding the definition of what it means to be a part of the labor movement.
For those of you who have never heard of Netroots Nation, here's what it's all about:
Each year, thousands of bloggers, newsmakers, social justice advocates, labor and organizational leaders, grassroots organizers and online activists come together to make new connections, hone their organizing skills, share best practices and build stronger relationships with others working on the issues they care most about. And each year, some of the brightest minds in progressive politics come to Netroots Nation to speak with—and hear from—our community.
Moderating the Alt-Labor discussion is digital organizer and co-founder of Coworker.org Jess Kutch. Joining her are Galen Hooks, a choreographer and chair of the Dancers' Alliance, organizer David Wehde of Working America, Jennifer Angarita, who runs the AFL-CIO National Worker Center Partnership program, and Gregory Cendana, executive director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) and Institute for Asian Pacific American Leadership & Advancement.
Stay tuned for the wrap of this exciting discussion on the AFL-CIO Now blog and more updates from Netroots by following the hashtag #NN13 on Twitter.
Elsewhere at Netroots, union members and allies will be out in full force, participating in the ever popular "Hug a Union Thug" booth (stay tuned for new pictures here), a pre-conference lowdown on firefighting 101 from Fire Fighters (IAFF), as well as a chance to get up close and personal with a fire truck and gear; and checking out the Laborers (LIUNA) mobile training unit on solar panels, as well as Made In America booths (think Ghirardelli chocolates) and union-made beer tastings.
Working America will host a game show, "Can My Boss Do That?" and spread the word about the new organizing site, FixMyJob.com.
AFT President Randi Weingarten will speak on a panel about gun violence and school safety. Communications Workers of America (CWA) President Larry Cohen will speak on a panel about reclaiming democracy, and UNITE HERE member Cathy Youngblood, who's running for a spot on the Hyatt Hotels Board of Directors, also will be speaking on a "Making Wall Street Tremble" panel.
See the full list of Netroots panels and events here.