Zoom Governance isn’t Easy, but it’s Valuable

ACORN International Labor Unions

Mumbai           There’s nothing easy about Zoom governance.  One thing in its favor is that it’s better than nothing, and so it’s the chosen alternative when ACORN leaders assemble internationally for our spring meeting.  We’ve gotten better at it.  Backgrounds are muted more often.  There’s less waving at the screens for speakers to turn on their microphones.  It’s what the ACORN federation and its affiliates can afford, so we all make it work.  There’s another giant plus: the meetings are great.  People love seeing and hearing each other.  It tightens the bonds that hold our disparate countries and members together across vast continents across the globe.  For our ACORN India representatives, since the meeting was convened from Mumbai, it meant a more reasonable early evening start time than the often late night wakeups to participate, so that marked a small win in their book.

The meeting wasn’t huge, about twenty people, but it was good spirited with concise, well-prepared presentations by the countries.  The diversity of issues and interests was exhilarating, as I raced to keep some notes on the reports.

India reported on work in progress with migrant and informal workers organizations in Delhi, on expansion of our hawker union membership in Bengaluru while supporting them with housing allotments and protected vending space, and with huge efforts to modify the redevelopment plans in the Dharavi community in Mumbai coupled with great production gains through the incentive program for our women’s wastepickers’ cooperative.  ACORN Liberia, on another continent, had leaders from the palm oil and rubber plantations where we organize to report on their progress in forcing construction of schools and winning increase access to potable water.  Couple that with reports on historic initiatives for tenants’ rights being advanced by ACORN England and Wales, fierce battles to prevent the Ontario government from eviscerating hard won tenant victories on rent control and inclusionary zoning by ACORN Canada, effective eviction defense in Glasgow and Edinburgh by ACORN’s Living Rent affiliate, and groundbreaking victories around retrofits by ACORN in France, which is leading our efforts throughout Europe on this issue coupled with their historic advocacy and victory for the rights of Muslim women to participate in sports and access public facilities, and then you get a picture of a great, global membership organization rising in power and effectiveness.

The board applauded the new joint training and cooperation efforts between Scotland and ACORN England and Wales.  They were excited about the new initiatives in organizing in Wellington, New Zealand, Brussels, Belgium, as well as Heerlen, Amsterdam and Catania, Sicily.  The strength of their support could be heard in reaction to a last-minute proposal from Scotland asking our better resourced affiliates to consider how they could support the international in its work and expansion through dues and other contributions, as they had with their “one pound per member per capita” allocation in 2022.  The suggestion to take it back to the country boards for a decision later in the fall meeting was received warmly.  Heck, additional countries even committed to following England and Canada in support of acornradio.org with regular programming.

The Zoom media mechanism may suck, but the messages that come through it are amazing!