SWU is membership-based and membership-led. It implements a community-labor strategy to advocate for worker rights and community empowerment in an intergenerational organizing model. The longevity of the organization has assisted in building a strong, committed membership base, dedicated leadership.
Nuestra Voz (Our Voice)
The Nuestra Voz initiative raises the voices of low-income families within public institutions, school districts, and City Council. Nuestra Voz integrates our base building work with comprehensive civic engagement strategies that will advance our existing work for just wages, good schools, healthy communities and a sustainable future.. Through demonstrating our power at the polls, our organization builds as a political force and provides us with more leverage to advance our work for social justice.
Utilizing the momentum of the 2008 election year, SWU promotes a platform that includes community economic development, accountability of public institutions, expanding opportunities currently and historically marginalized from (access to voting, higher education, quality education, job training). From playgrounds to sidewalks to bus routes to wages, all these are part of a struggle to improve lives of families in South Texas. Nuestra Voz ensures that city, district and regional institutions and elected officials hear voices of our members while rooting our work in developing new leaders from the community across racial, gender and generational divides.
Nuestra Voz campaign for change is promoting: (1) just land-use and infrastructure in Hondo, Texas; (2) just working conditions and living wage for public workers; (3) a good education program inside the school district and expanding youth opportunities and; (4) a sustainable, healthy future through a clean, green and energy efficient San Antonio and South Texas.
Organizing School for Justice
At the Organizing School of Justice grassroots leaders experience participatory popular political education centered on social justice themes and skill-building. This model intentionally looks to broaden the knowledge of the membership to obtain a more comprehensive understanding and offer new skills, such as planning and consensus building. The ‘school’ provides bilingual social-justice focused educational opportunities outside the mainstream system and takes place 6-8 Saturdays per year. Graduates go on to facilitate future sessions.
Sample Trainings include:
- Organizing 101 – basic introduction to various aspects of organizing a community-based campaign, focus on strategy, targets and tactics and power mapping (3.5 hr)
- Education is Liberation – insight into history of educational struggles, unjust funding system, disparities in education and ways to address inequities (4 hr)
- Connecting the Local to the Global – understanding a broad spectrum of global worker and community struggles, the social forum process, linkages to local struggles (4 hr)
- Oil, Energy & Climate Justice – understanding the cause and effect of climate change, the lifeline of oil, human face to climate change, local impacts, role of the gulf coast as an energy hub. Includes climate jeopardy game. (10-12 hrs)
- Know Your Rights – training on bill rights rights and state laws, with emphasis of right to work laws. (3 hrs)
- Migrant Worker Struggles – a cross-cultural history of international worker and migrant struggles in the US, personal immigration stories, immigrant timeline, impacts of globalization and the role of May 1st . (4 hrs)
- Corporate Globalization & La Resistencia del Pueblo (People’s Resistance) – learning about the global economy, its history development and the impact on people and culture locally and globally. (4 hrs)
- Environmental Justice & Project ReGeneration – understanding the impacts of toxics and how they travel through the environmental and human body, principles of just transition, and the process to develop just solutions (12-15 hrs)
- La Leyenda de Kelly – popular interactive theatre about the toxic legacy of Kelly Air Force Base and ways for the community to organize. (1 hr)
- Food Sovereignty – importance of food in cultural identity, the green revolution and affects of genetic engineering and community and family gardens (3.5 hrs)
- ‘Dating Game’ – interactive theatre on the impact of World Bank policies on countries and people. (1 hr)
- Social Forums and Movement building – participatory analysis of the importance of creating alliances locally, nationally and globally to build power. (3 hrs)
- Talking to the Media – how to develop and frame a message, deliver soundbites, write press releases and talk in front of a camera (3-4 hrs)
- Consensus Building – participatory facilitation methodology to arrive at consensus using the knowledge in the room (6 hrs)
- Strategic Planning - participatory facilitation methodology to arrive at consensus strategic plan, based on vision and challenges. (9 -12 hrs)
For information about curriculum & training, contact Jill.
SWU promotes multi-generational meetings that utilize and highlight the knowledge in the room. It is important to bridge the elders’ past experience and knowledge of history with the energy and insights from youth. This cross-fertilization of realities and experiences expanding across generational gaps encourages dialogue, sharing and consensus-building within the organization. This sharing is particularly beneficial as youth seek to reclaim culture, music and language. Through this process, SWU creates a continuity of knowledge that is built upon by every generation and a continuum of struggle that looks forward while being rooted in history.
Regionalizing Grassroots Leadership
SWU intentionally connects our leaders to organizations and movements, regionally, nationally and internationally. Leaders represent SWU at conferences, marches and events globally which advances our efforts towards building a broader movement across racial and geographical divides.
- Over 3,000 families as members
- An active membership board
- Trained over 750 people and had thousands participate at events
- Developed hundreds of community spokespeople
- Integrated a multi-generational leadership model
- Produced popular education curriculum and workhops