2014 Chertkov Fellow: Jane Mcalevey
Jane McAlevey is a lifelong organizer for environmental and labor justice. Early in her career, she worked at the Earth Island Institute, Highlander Research and Education Center, and the Veatch Foundation. She was later recruited to work on the Geographic Organizing Project with the AFL-CIO in Stamford, Connecticut. The project was an experimental multi-union campaign, and Jane’s first foray into social movement unionism.
From the AFL-CIO she was recruited as the national deputy director for strategic campaigns of the Healthcare division of the SEIU, and later appointed the Executive Director of SEIU’s Nevada local. Under Jane’s leadership, the Nevada local reached the highest membership level in a Right to Work state in the history of SEIU.
Jane’s success in the labor movement is in no doubt a direct result of her steadfast belief in what she calls “whole-worker organizing” and social movement unionism. She writes in depth about her organizing in Raising Expectations (And Raising Hell); My Decade Fighting For the Labor Movement (2012), co-authored with Bob Ostertag. Jane maintains an uncompromising faith in the power potential of a well-organized work force at a time when much of the left has lost faith in the labor movement’s capacity to organize the rank and file, much less mobilize for social change.
While at Blue Mountain Center, Jane was pursuing a PhD in Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center in addition to consulting with unions and community organizations and regularly contributing to various news publications. Jane was able to pen five significant pieces during her residency, including “Labor’s Only Real Choice,” published in The Nation and widely reprinted; “Forging New Class Solidarities: Organizing Hospital Workers” published in The Socialist Register, AlterNet and Truthout; and “Harris vs. Quinn - Separate and Not Equal,” which appeared in Waging Non-Violence.