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What “Salting” is and Why You May Not Know About It – Author Talk with Mie Inouye, Jorge Maldonado and Vanessa Veselka | Labor Author Series #6
October 26, 2022 at 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm PDT
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Join us for our sixth author talk, with Mie Inouye, Jorge Maldonado, and Vanessa Veselka to discuss the practice of “salting” a workplace. A concept with history that dates back to the early 1900s, a salt is a worker who gets a job at a workplace with the goal of organizing their coworkers. As part of the recent upsurge of worker organizing, salting is also seeing a renewed interest. Salts have played an underreported role in supporting longstanding workers in their recent campaigns at Starbucks and Amazon.
We will discuss the history and current resurgence of salting, and why you may not have heard of it. We’ll also explore how it is a powerful form of solidarity, how it intersects with race and class, and why the distinction between salts and non-salts in a workplace can be fraught. Scholar and organizer Mie Inouye recently wrote “Labor’s Militant Minority” in the Boston Review on the topic of salting. We will also be joined in the conversation by Jorge Maldonado, who currently works with the NY State Nurses Association and previously was a salt early in his career.
Professor Mie Inouye is a political theorist and organizer whose scholarship investigates the ways that institutions shape people’s understandings of themselves and the social world, and the practices that allow racially and economically oppressed people to develop and exercise agency.
An excerpt from Professor Inouye’s piece:
Today’s salts are one component of a new militant minority, a layer of combative, politically conscious rank-and-file leaders within the labor movement. Their presence at Amazon and Starbucks suggests that we are witnessing an organic convergence of the college-educated middle class with the existing working class. This new militant minority, comprised of working-class labor leaders and left-wing college graduates, has the potential to unite the rejuvenated labor movement and other post-Occupy, post-Bernie arms of the U.S. left. If this occurs, then the victory at JFK8 portends many more to come.
About Mie Inouye
Mie Inouye is a political theorist whose scholarship investigates the ways that institutions shape people’s understandings of themselves and the social world, and the practices that allow oppressed people to develop and exercise agency. Her research and teaching interests include social movements, democratic theory, socialism, race and politics, American political thought, and religion and politics. Her current book project, Antinomies of Organizing, reconstructs theories of political organizing from the praxis of organizers in the 20th-century U.S. labor and civil rights movements, including William Z. Foster, Saul Alinsky, Myles Horton, and Ella Baker. The book traces the relationship between democratization and subjective transformation in the American organizing tradition and argues that this tradition holds important insights into the modes and ends of democratic participation. Inouye’s writings have been published in academic and popular venues including The American Political Science Review, Jacobin Magazine, The Forge, and Boston Review.
About Jorge Maldonado
Jorge is a union organizer currently representing nurses in the Bronx, NY. Before, he worked at UNITE HERE covering Newark and NYC airports. He was originally introduced into the labor movement by salting with them, successfully unionizing as an airline catering worker and later as a line cook at a tech cafeteria. He is also part of the Bread and Roses caucus of the Democratic Socialists of America. He currently lives in Jersey City.
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For more work by Professor Inouye:
- Between Old and New Gods – Political Theology Network
- Factually! with Adam Conover: How to Organize a Movement with Mie Inouye on Apple Podcasts
- The Highlander Idea – Jacobin
- Organizing and Being Organized – Jacobin
- Starting with People Where They Are: Ella Baker’s Theory of Political Organizing – American Political Science Review