Belabored: How to Bargain for Power, with Jane McAlevey

Belabored: How to Bargain for Power, with Jane McAlevey

The longtime organizer and theorist discusses tactics that unions can use to win major gains at the table and in the contract.

Jane McAlevey

[contentblock id=belabored-credits-cs]

[contentblock id=belabored]

The wave of unionization continues apace across the United States and elsewhere in the world, but there’s often much less attention paid to the part of the process that comes after the winning of a union election: the bargaining of a contract. It can seem like the hard part is over when the votes are counted, but our guest this week reminds us that the hard part is just beginning. If that sounds daunting, well, Jane McAlevey is here to share her knowledge of how to make that hard part, if not easier, at least to help you succeed. McAlevey is a longtime organizer and organizing theorist,  the founder of the massively popular online trainings, Organizing for Power, supported by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, and the author and co-author of several books and many reports and articles on the art of worker organizing. Her newest book, with Abby Lawlor, is titled Rules to Win By: Power and Participation in Union Negotiations, and she joins us to talk about using big, open, democratic bargaining tactics to win major gains at the table and in the contract. 

We also check in with Donna Murch of Rutgers AAUP-AFT on the multi-union, 9,000-worker strike at Rutgers University in New Jersey, and hear from Katie Wells on a new report on the conditions of Doordash drivers. And we hear about the firing of a union leader (and former Belabored guest) at Planned Parenthood North Central States, and the junior doctors and nurses’ strikes fighting to save the British National Health Service.

Thank you for listening to our 264th episode! If you like the show, you can support us on Patreon with a monthly contribution, at the level that best suits you.

If you’re interested in advertising on the show, please email And as always, if you have any questions, comments, or tips, email us at

This season of Belabored is supported in part by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.


Daniel Han, ‘Pissed off’: Rutgers unions mull resuming strike amid mounting frustration over finalizing contractPolitico

Noah Lanard, Why Rutgers Faculty Are Striking for the First Time in 257 YearsMother Jones

Sarah, “Injury to All” at Rutgers UniversityDissent

Katie Wells and Isabella Stratta, The Instant Delivery Workplace in D.C., Beeck Center

Michelle, Transcript: Courier Class War, with Antonio Solis, Dissent

Anne Rumberger, Abortion Rights Are Workers’ Rights, Jacobin  

Sarah and Michelle, Belabored: Game Workers Unite and Win, with Emma Kinema, Dissent

Sarah and Michelle, Belabored: Reproductive Justice Is Labor Justice, Dissent

Dan Zahedi, Junior Doctors Will Fight as Long as It TakesTribune

George Walker, Nurses Tell of Disappointment With Latest NHS Pay Offer, Novara

Aubrey Allegretti, Denis Campbell, Kiran Stacey, and Jamie Grierson, Nurses will strike again in England after voting to reject government pay dealGuardian


Jane McAlevey

Organizing for Power

Jane McAlevey, Getting to Contract: Negotiating and Winning Against the Odds, The Nation

Sarah, After a Union Election Victory Comes the Hard Part, The Progressive

Socialist thought provides us with an imaginative and moral horizon.

For insights and analysis from the longest-running democratic socialist magazine in the United States, sign up for our newsletter: