Delhi The best parts of my visits every fall to India are the hard, but necessary discussions, with organizers about work plans for the coming year, especially the long difficult parts where we try to create adaptations of organizing methods with cultural concerns and deep set community practices. After three days of discussion we seem to have settled on a solid plan and budget to move forward in 2010.
On our informal worker projects the consensus was that we needed to upgrade our efforts to create a union of hawkers especially in some of the newer developing market areas where there are opportunities and organizational vacuums. The relative stability of hawkers, their accessibility, and their ability to support the dues structure make increasing the organization there a good counterweight to the more marginal unions of waste pickers that we have concentrated on in 2009. This is such a classic problem in low wage union organizing where relatively better waged members are needed to support more marginal and contingent members, even in the United States, where within a Local 100 it takes our public school workers in Houston and state workers in Arkansas to balance our garbage workers in Dallas and New Orleans and our nursing home workers in Shreveport.
Finally, the Delhi organizers are committed to building the community organizing side of ACORN India. Most of our work has concentrated in East Delhi. A large 10 lahk (1M) population labor colony in the northeast nearby called Burari seems the most promising area for us to build the base. This is going to get exciting!
Budget is always hard, and these are hard times, but within the new COI/ACORN International framework of 50-50 shares between internal and external funds development, a new plan was embraced after long soul searching and discussion that left us all with significant goals to meet, but with the confidence that we could do it as well. The organizers believed that by signing up two to three members per organizer per day and then using the dues and special appeals, they could raise their half of the budget.
It felt good to get there, and once plan starts hitting the streets, 2010 could be the breakthrough year in Delhi!