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Playing Bigger Than You Are: A Life in Organizing [Kindle Edition]

Stewart Acuff , Senator Bernie Sanders
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

"Playing Bigger Than You Are: A Life in Organizing" is Stewart Acuff's story of his 30-year life in organizing. Be it organizing citizens for stop signs at a busy intersection in Memphis, successfully working to unionize the Atlanta Olympics, or guiding the nationwide organizing program of the AFL-CIO, we get a rare insight into the day-to-day struggles of an organizer. We meet a man who risked his life as a UN observer during elections in Sierra Leone, has spent time in jail, marched in the WTO ''Battle of Seattle'', and helped sidetrack Newt Gingrich during the 'Contract with America' days. In his foreword, Senator Bernie Sanders says ''Stewart Acuff is one of the best when it comes to helping Americans organize to get things done.''

Praise for Stewart Acuff's Getting America Back to Work:

"Stewart Acuff has done it again! He is quickly proving himself as the best in America at taking complex issues and explaining them to the average working family in a way we can completely understand. This time he has taken on the fat-cat bankers, the multi-national corporations and the greediest of the greedy and has taken apart their 'rich should get richer' arguments piece by piece. In this short publication, he has laid out the arguments against free-trade, bank bailouts, risky tax schemes and how to really fix the main broken components of the U.S. economy in a way only he can do. Whether writing in the world of online bloggers, speaking to thousands of trade-unionists, taking on the right-wing pundits on FOX news or through writings like this superb easy-to-read book, Stewart Acuff never seems to disappoint! Its time to take back our economy and now, with Acuff's Getting America Back to Work, we have our own GPS system to get us there.''

--Tim Waters, United Steelworkers Director of Rapid Response

"In the more than 30 years that Stewart Acuff and I have been co-workers and friends, he has consistently been one of the most creative and committed organizers in the labor movement and beyond. When Stewart was leader of the Atlanta Central Labor Council, The Nation rightly called it the country's 'most vibrant and militant CLC.' Now Stewart and Richard Levins have merged the wisdom of their two outstanding careers into one hard-hitting manual for everyday working people who are trying to take our country back from the Big Boys who have stolen it. Read it, stand up and fight back.''--Si Kahn, Executive Director Emeritus, Grassroots Leadership; Distinguished Senior Fellow, Demos

''I've read your book twice already. It's great. Every American should read this!'' --Laura Askelin, President, SE MN Area Labor Council/AFL-CIO

About the Author

Stewart J Acuff has been an organizer for more than 30 years. He started union organizing in 1982 as the Service Employees International Union organizing coordinator in Texas where he and his team organized 12 nursing homes in two years. In 1985 Stewart went to Georgia where he founded SEIU Local 1985 and built the union up to 3000 members. In 1990 he became president of the Atlanta AFL-CIO where he organized and led the historic campaign to unionize the 1996 Olympics, labor's biggest victory ever in the South. In 2000 he went to work for the national AFL-CIO. Stewart was organizing director from 2001-2008. Under his tenure the labor movement grew by more than it had in a generation. Stewart developed the policy and legislation which became the Employee Free Choice Act and led the campaign to pass it.

Readers can connect with Stewart via Twitter (@StewartAcuff), via Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/stewart.acuff), or on his website at http://stewartacuff.com/


Editorial Reviews

Review

''It is all too easy to think of Washington as a center of power. Stewart Acuff knows that power flows everywhere there are organized Americans, and he is one of the best when it comes to helping Americans organize to get things done.'' -- Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent US Senator from Vermont

''I like the lessons you spell out and the examples that accompany them. Organizers need to hear these lessons, especially new organizers. You talked about the important lessons we know are true in order to succeed in organizing. It's important to have someone like you with your experiences sharing those lessons.'' -- Sarah McKenzie, Director, AFL-CIO Organizing Institute

''Stewart Acuff's life story has been packed with organizing ordinary people and moving them to do extraordinary things. Across the country, he has helped working people stand up for themselves, together with their co-workers and their neighbors, for dignity and justice against the rich and powerful.'' -- Ken Zinn, Research Director, National Nurses United

''Stewart does a fine job of spreading the gospel about our 'righteous' work, as he calls it, and that's a reason to give thanks!''-- Wade Rathke, Founder and Chief Organizer of ACORN, and currently Chief Organizer ACORN International

''After reading the cover poem, and the first paragraph, tears came into my eyes.'' -- Amy Fields, General Manager, Eastside Food Co-op, Minnesota

''[Stewart has] captured the organizing journey of our generation from the community to the Employee Free Choice Act, from the South to the halls of Congress.'' -- Larry Cohen, President, Communication Workers of America

''...new organizers and activists should read it.'' -- --Bill Fletcher, Labor activist, author, and Director of Field Services and Education Department, American Federation of Government Employees

About the Author

Stewart Acuff developed his skills as a grassroots organizer in Texas, Tennessee, and New Hampshire. He organized and led the historic effort to unionize the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, risked his life as a UN observer during the first democratic election in Sierra Leone, and participated in the WTO ''Battle of Seattle''. As Organizing Director of AFL-CIO, he managed national campaigns that helped shape the direction of US labor. Stewart presently serves as Chief of Staff for the Utility Workers Union of America.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1325 KB
  • Print Length: 130 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Windwalker Media (November 8, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A4HEDKC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #397,373 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Real Story July 2, 2012
Format:Paperback
I'm just an every day rank-and-filer, working middle class mom who values and benefits from unions. I want to learn all I can, to do what I can, right where I am, to help in any way I can. So in my own small way I have been on a journey to do just that.
What I love about Stewart's book is his personal story. So much so that I sat down to read it and could not stop. Nothing makes for better reading than an organizer's story! I laughed while reading about investigators left waiting in a hot car and thanked God he was well versed in Bible passages that served him well. I connected with his testimony of how organizing work takes time and often times it's precious family time. A work that has no time clock and often goes unnoticed. That organizing will have ups and downs, wins and losses, highs and lows. When he talks about the split between the AFL-CIO and the Change To Win unions, sometimes organizing may even put you at odds with your close friends.
From sleeping on a cot in a tent city to spending time in jail Stewart takes the reader on a journey through conflict and power. A journey of commitment and hope and the belief that people, above all else, will fight for dignity and respect. That together we can play bigger than we are and make our lives better.
Thank you Stewart for sharing your story!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an incredible book! November 14, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
This is an incredible book, and a very quick read!! Even though I am a very slow reader, it is such a page turner, and I finished it in a few hours! Stewart Acuff's life story is so inspiring. The book outlines his victories and defeats in the labor movement, and proves that a small group of people CAN make a difference and CAN change the world! I highly recommend this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great book about a life as an organizer June 19, 2012
Format:Paperback
A few years ago, Stewart Acuff was on tour for his previous book, "Getting America Back to Work." I was invited by friends to go to a reading in the Twin Cities to hear Stewart's take on the American economy and what can be done to fix it.

During the book discussion, the conversation turned to the work of organizing and how we need to continue to organize people to place a countervailing pressure against the organized money of the financial elite who are directing our nation.

I'd been working as an anti-poverty organizer for a few years and, after ups and downs and victories and losses, I was exhausted. I raised my hand and said, "I appreciate all you've done to build power for working people. There are a lot of organizers in this room, who do work like you've done. I'm thinking a lot of us feel beaten down. I'm betting a lot of us are tired and tired of fighting. What advice do you have for us?"

Stewart looked me straight in the eye and said words I'll never forget. "Yeah, I bet you're tired, brother. We're all tired. We're tired of working people not getting what they deserve. We're tired of poor people not getting a fair shake. But you know what? We can't stop. We can't get tired. Don't you think Dr. King was tired? We all get tired. I'm tired, too. But we fight on, because we have to."

From that moment, I've been looking forward to reading more about Stewart's life and work. This book does not disappoint at all. Stewart Acuff is a master community organizer. He's worked all across the country with labor and community groups to help build power with and for people to fight back against corporate excesses and bad public policy. His story, so richly and vividly told here, is both an inspiration and an agitation. Organizers know that we can learn from each other's successes and failures, and in this book, Stewart maps out the ways he's built organizations and walked with people to create a more just world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Organizing 101 June 14, 2012
Format:Paperback
Stewart's recounting of his life as an organizer is inspiring and instructive. A must read for those who want to know first hand what labor organizing is all about. Very readable and rich with anecdotes that instruct anyone how to overcome the difficulties that emerge when one takes on a cause. I highly recommend it to those who are ready to take to the streets to make change and create a better world.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great story April 21, 2013
By J2812
Format:Kindle Edition
Acuff's story was inspirational and chock full of good experiences that can teach a lot to anybody looking to learn from one of the greats.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating memoir March 30, 2013
Format:Paperback
A fascinating memoir/autobiography by Stewart Acuff, former organizing director for the AFL-CIO. It is essential reading for every youngish labor organizer and social justice and activists and for those who are not so youngish.
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