Justin McBride is the Campaign Director for the CLEAN Carwash Campaign, and works for the AFL-CIO. Justin grew up in Saint Louis, Missouri. He was first exposed to unions with the garment workers’ union, UNITE, in New York City, while he was still pursuing undergraduate studies at Duke University in 1999. Upon graduating, he became a staff organizer, and has been helping workers form unions ever since in a variety of industries, including laundry, warehouse, industrial, janitorial, construction, and now carwash workers. Justin began working on the CLEAN Carwash Campaign in 2008.
Topics Justin can speak about
Collective Bargaining, Capitalism, Unions, Union Organizing, Community Organizing, Worker Centers, Wage & Hour Litigation for Organizing, and the National Labor Relations Board. Justin also has three different role-plays for students that he can conduct.
- One is a lottery game which divides workers into haves and have-nots and has them negotiate between each group for a nominal prize. The goal of the role-play is to get students to understand the dynamics of power between workers and employers, but can also teach about globalization if you want it to.
- Another is a paper airplane factory which teaches students about means of production and the labor commodity in a hands on way, and the relationship of worker to owner.
- Finally, a negotiation workshop about negotiating from a position of power and the role of comparative power dynamics in discussions.
How and why did you become involved in the Labor Movement?
I became involved in the labor movement as a student activist while I was studying at Duke University. I interned with a union in New York City, UNITE, and was exposed firsthand to the injustices in the sweatshop industry there. I also learned about the power of organizing and collective action in a way I never forgot.
What is the greatest challenge facing labor today?
Labor unions are losing members by the thousands every year, and have not figured out how to cope effectively with the joint challenges of globalization and an increasingly powerful and well-organized business-backed movement in our country. If unions cannot get our strategies to change to fit in with these two realities, we will not survive.
What can students do today to get involved in the Labor Movement?
Students can get involved by working with a union. Los Angeles is the best city in the country for interested students to learn firsthand about union organizing because of the breadth of possibilities here. Nowhere else is the movement so vibrant. Spend a summer with an organizing campaign; get to meet some workers and learn how they are dealing with their problems on the job, and take the things you learn back to your future work!