As a joint project of the U.S. Student Association and National Jobs With Justice, the Student Labor Action Project has a unique organizing model for building student and worker power for economic justice and workers’ rights on campus. At grassroots, campus chapters across the country, SLAP supports the growing student movement for economic justice by making links between campus and community organizing. We do this by providing skills trainings to build lasting student organizations and developing campaigns that win concrete victories for working families- all while breaking the poverty cycle by fighting for access to higher education and full and fair employment. This allows students to recognize power relationships in a much larger fight, where students are fundamentally connected to workers and workers to students.
At SLAP, we believe in the power of organizing students. Rather than sitting in meetings to discuss surface level changes all day, we fight against corporate power structures that perpetuate racism, sexism, and class inequality. Everyday, we are engaged in building a grassroots movement of students and workers, starting from our campuses and building to our states and to the entire United States. Most of all, we believe in and work towards winning real victories that have a lasting impact on people’s lives.
SLAP’s power model has lead to victories across the country. At the University of Oregon, members of SEIU 503 are being told that they need to take furlough days as 30 university administrators receive raises. Because they have received the backing of students lead by SLAP, they know that they have the power to strike and win a fair contract and fair working conditions.
At The George Washington University, 46 unorganized ironworkers were illegally fired for trying to organize a union at a subcontractor. Members of the Progressive Student Union worked with their local DC Jobs with Justice coalition to win back 23 of those jobs by leveraging both the university administration and local city council members.
At UMass-Amherst, SLAP students and workers were able to come together and run a campaign to protect temporary campus employees that had routinely faced abuses from the administration. With the support of the local community, students on campus, and other workers, they overwhelmingly voted to join the union creating over 400 new union jobs.
SLAP has created a model for students and workers to come together, build lasting organizations that challenge institutions which continue to perpetuate injustices in our communities as we help build a larger social movement. The building of an interconnected movement means that students cannot simply walk away from organizing and building power after we graduate. We know that the fight is not over simply because graduation has come and gone, and SLAP functions as a leadership development pipeline of talented organizers from the student movement to the labor movement. Recent SLAP alumni now organize state workers, adjunct faculty, and Walmart associates as labor organizers. Several SLAP alumni now work at community organizations, from local coalitions of Jobs With Justice to the Dream Defenders in Florida.