Commentary and Review Essays
Have We Built the Committee? Advancing Leadership Development in the U.S. Labor Movement
Article first published online: 11 MAR 2013
WorkingUSA: The Journal of Labor and Society © 2013 Immanuel Ness and Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Volume 16, Issue 1, pages 113–142, March 2013
How to Cite
Patel, S. N. (2013), Have We Built the Committee? Advancing Leadership Development in the U.S. Labor Movement. WorkingUSA, 16: 113–142. doi: 10.1111/wusa.12026
- Issue published online: 11 MAR 2013
- Article first published online: 11 MAR 2013
Organizing practice and research have shown that the recruitment and development of grassroots worker leadership is key to winning organizing, contract, and political campaigns. Despite the broad endorsement of leadership-development organizing and a collection of truly inspiring leadership development stories, when asked, worker leaders consistently report varieties of leadership underdevelopment. Drawing on the rich history of leadership-development organizing and surveys conducted with worker leaders in two different California union locals while working as an organizer, and an interview-based case study of a building services local on the east coast, I argue that conducting evaluations—regularly asking and answering the question: have we built the committee?—can improve leadership development efforts and increase critical movement measures of leadership density and leadership dignity. Rather than impose a template, worker organizations can choose from a variety of concrete evaluation opportunities, designs, and measures. Ultimately, using evaluation to advance leadership development requires that organizations make it their own.