For much of the past decade-plus, I was a community organizer with non-union immigrant workers in Central Falls, Rhode Island; first with the United Workers Committee (UWC) of Progreso Latino and then with Fuerza Laboral, the UWC’s independent reincarnation. The last few years I’ve been consulting with community organizing organizations on storytelling, leadership development, and direct action. For a more complete bio, scroll down.
I write this blog not because I see myself as some kind of organizing expert, but rather because I feel privileged to have had some wonderful mentors and to have worked in community with grassroots leaders who amazed me constantly with their boldness and vision. All over the world, people are doing extraordinary things through organizing, but many of those stories never reach beyond a small circle of folks. My hope is that this be a place where you can find inspiration from the true stories of real people getting real justice right now, by organizing.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me (through the “Contact” page) if you have an organizing story that needs to be told.
Greg Pehrson has over 15 years of experience in direct action community organizing:
December 2010-Current: Greg is working as a consultant to social justice organizations, and performing stories and songs of the victories of organized people.
February 2006-November 2010: Greg was the Founding Executive Director of Fuerza Laboral/Power of Workers, the independent reincarnation of the United Workers’ Committee, conducting member-led direct action campaigns for immigrant and worker rights that received frequent local press. Fuerza’s campaign and civil disobedience with the Colibri factory workers received national recognition including CNN Money and In These Times, and is the epilogue of the Kari Lydersen book Revolt on Goose Island about the worker takeover of Chicago’s Republic Windows and Doors factory. Achieved 501c3 nonprofit status and raised over $100,000/ year for the budget.
February 2006-August 2006: Greg worked on a 6-month contract with the Open Table of Christ United Methodist Church, developing a replicable model of small group leadership focused on reflection and action for social justice.
November 2001-January 2006: Community organizer and subsequent Program Director of the United Workers’ Committee at Progreso Latino, Inc. Greg worked with immigrant workers on issues of workplace justice, developing and carrying out an intensive training calendar, and organizing community members to lead direct actions and public meetings of up to 250 people that resulted in concrete improvements in workers’ rights.
2001: Greg led his coworkers in his first on-the-job direct action for non-payment of wages, winning the money the night of the protest along with demands for job-sharing instead of layoffs. In the summer and fall of 2001 he lived in Xela, Guatemala and worked with the UTQ (Unión de Trabajadores de Quetzaltenango), who organize all workers together regardless of trade, including informal/ street sector workers.
1998-2000: Greg was a student activist and organizer at Brown University, working for need-blind admissions, living wage, participating in the WTO Shutdown and co-organizing the Brown Mobilization to DC, coordinating logistics for 125 students in the protest against the IMF/World Bank.
Greg is fully bilingual in English/Spanish, and is learning Portuguese. He is a multi-instrumentalist: guitar, flute and percussion.