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Organizing Institute

Beth Tombers

"I'm an organizer because I believe that safe employment to earn a living wage is a human right. People who actually work for a living deserve so much more than we have all been led to believe."
Beth Tombers
2013 OI Apprentice Organizer
Gulf Coast Shipyards Campaign

About the Organizing Institute

The Organizing Institute’s (OI’s) mission is to develop and promote the craft of organizing. Founded in 1989the Organizing Institute highlights the importance of organizing within the labor movement. We recruit and train new organizers; collaborate across the labor movement with community allies; and share successful approaches to support organizing and strategic campaigns.

Three-Day Training for New Organizers: Our first three-day training was launched in November 1989. Twenty-five years and hundreds of trainings later, thousands of alumni of the OI three-day—union staff and members alike—are organizing, advocating and leading the fight for social change in unions and allied organizations. Check out our current training scheduleRead more.

Organizing Institute Trainings

The OI offers several training options:

The OI offers trainings for:

2015 Schedule

Philadelphia July 10–12 CLOSED
San Antonio* July 31–Aug. 2 CLOSED
Austin, Texas Aug. 25–26 CLOSED
Iowa City, Iowa Sept. 11–13 CANCELLED
Hartford, Conn. Sept. 18–20  
Vancouver Oct. 6–8 CLOSED
Columbus, Ohio Oct. 16–18  
Los Angeles** Nov. 6–8  
New Orleans Dec. 11–13  

*Co-sponsored with LCLLA and UA Local 142
**Co-sponsored with APALA 

National Organizers Workshop


The Organizing Institute held a National Organizers Workshop on March 6 and 7 in Washington, D.C. More than 700 organizers rolled up their sleeves for interactive, engaged discussions about how to build power in their workplaces and communities.  

Learn more about what happened at the National Organizers Workshop by visiting the website, searching the #oiat25 hashtag on Twitter and viewing the photos.

Call us: 1-800-848-3021

Get FAQs about the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute.

Advanced Organizing Workshops

The Organizing Institute will be hosting four sessions of the OI Advanced Organizing Workshop in 2015.

April 27–29
May 18–20
July 13–15
Oct. 5–7

Locations TBD.

The curriculum for this training was developed in collaboration with senior staff from partner unions. It's designed to give organizers a chance to step back from the day-to-day responsibilities and think about strategic planning and long-term goals to win power for the working class. This training will help organizers with field experience take on greater responsibility for planning, leading—and winning—successful campaigns.

The workshop focuses on:

  • Critical thinking skill.
  • Creating plans that build momentum.
  • Articulating plans to justify choices.
  • Strategies for leading teams through decision making and planning.

There is a special focus on thinking through community allies and strategies outside the workplace and applying core organizing principles to different ground models.

We held the initial session in September 2014 and received great reviews from the organizers who attended. The cost is $150, and attendees must be selected and sponsored by their union.

For more information, please contact Lynn Rodenhuis, director of the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute, by email ( or phone (202-639-6289).

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