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Workers Circle to Look at ‘Organizing to Win in the 21st Century’

September 4, 2020

By Silver Krieger

New York, NY – On Sept. 8, Ann Toback, CEO of Workers Circle, will host a special Labor Day Webinar called “Labor Day 2020: Organizing to Win in the 21st Century.” The event takes place between 2-3 p.m.

The Workers Circle is a social justice organization that powers progressive Jewish identity through Jewish cultural engagement, Yiddish language learning, multigenerational education, and social justice activism. LaborPress spoke with Toback to learn about her union background and what we can expect from the webinar.

Ann Toback, CEO, The Workers Circle.

LP: Your family has a long history of union engagement. 

AT: Yes! I’ve learned that on one side of my family, the Toback side, the family history that involves unions goes back to my great-grandfather David Toback, who came from Ukraine. He was a tailor who was very active in the local Workmen’s Circle [the name of Workers Circle at the time]. My grandfather was also an active union member – he was a pocketbook framer. He met my grandmother who was in a millinery union. But for unions I might not be here! My father was very involved in the Newspaper Guild. My sister is in the New York Professional Nurses Union. Unions are very much a part of my family. And I spent nine years at the Writers Guild of America, East. [A union representing film and television writers as well as employees of television and radio news.] 

LP: Why is now a good time for the webinar?

AT: I think it’s always critical for all of us who consider ourselves activists and who want to be change makers in the world to put their people resources, time, and activism – not just money – into making real change beyond just showing up at rallies and organizing petitions. When we work collectively and strategically we can become even more impactful. It’s a union model. Determine the change you want to make in the world and determine strategies to effect that change. Today there are so many examples of what we need to fix in the world. So many workers are finding their rights under attack. In my talk I will look back at some of the inspiring victories that Workers Circle and others have achieved both inside the labor movement and outside. 

We know that there have been so many legislative attacks on workers today we have to be attuned to…We should use our history as a springboard to act today, including that we fight back against voter suppression, making sure the post office works, making sure people can easily vote. 

LP: How does COVID-19 come into the mix?

AT: We are fighting for additional protections for essential workers – especially those left out of COVID-19 relief. Essential workers are being told their work is more important than their very lives. Especially immigrants. We were founded by immigrant workers in the 1900’s and today there are new ones. We are very ready to fight for new immigrant rights. We are ready to make our country better today and that’s what immigrants bring to us. I’m excited to see what others will bring to the conversation. There will be a Q & A as part of the webinar. 

The event, Labor Day 2020: Organizing to Win in the 21st Century, is free but registration is required. Please see the link here: https://circle.org/event/labor-day-2020-organizing-win-21st-century/.

September 4, 2020

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