MoveOn and GCI: still strip-mining the grassroots

There has been a lot of discussion recently on this blog about Grassroots Campaigns Inc, which has contracts with the DNC and MoveOn, among other organizations. Last week, GCI's DCCC canvassers in Madison protested because they were not earning minimum wage--after a quick burst of outrage, the DCCC cancelled its contract with GCI.

But the lack of a living wage is only the beginning of the problems with GCI's operations. As Greg Bloom wrote in his series on MoveOn PAC's Leave No Voter Behind campaign, GCI's model has caused severe damage in the field because of a "crisis of leadership" in its management. I am here to say that the crisis has continued into MoveOn's 2006 operations. Myself and a number of other veterans of Operation Democracy--we call ourselves the MOFOs, the MoveOn Field Organizers--read Greg's posts and came together to talk about what we could do to help change the situation. This post will be the first of our series of testimonials that will expose the ways that GCI has failed its organizers, and failed MoveOn's campaign. At the end of the week, we will post a set of recommendations of actions that MoveOn can take to begin to resolve this crisis. If you find our stories compelling, and you agree this issue must be addressed by MoveOn, please send an email to Eli Pariser (eli@moveon.org) and cc us at ChangeGCI@gmail.com (or contact us there directly and we will update you with further information about how you can send a message to MoveOn).

My name is Martin Casas. In the last five years, I've been a field organizer and campaign manager for more than half a dozen progressive campaigns.

I was hired by GCI in the summer of 2005, though for more than a month after that, I did not receive concrete details about when the job would begin. But it seemed like a great opportunity so I quit my other job and waited to hear from them. And waited. I was about to throw in the towel and look for another job - thinking that if this is how they treat their perspective employees, I could only imagine how they treat their actual staff - when finally, in September, I was flown to Boston for a two week training. The training in Boston dragged on too - into five weeks. My girlfriend would call me daily in tears because of the stress of her new job in a new city where she was alone - but I could not tell her when I was coming home, because no one had any idea when I was going home or what I would be doing when I got there.

I would have left them on the spot, but because they'd been dangling the job in front of me for so long, I'd turned down other jobs and at this point I was too far in debt to just quit. I had to see it through. I asked daily for an advance on my paycheck, and I was told this was possible, but it never happened. At the time, I chalked this up to disorganization on their part, and entrusting important work to inexperienced young office staff.

While in Boston, I was assigned to recruit college-age kids for their program. We would not be paying for their trip for the interview - nor were these interviews a guarantee that they would get the job if they wanted it. So whenever I sensed that they lacked the funding for the trip, I would try to schedule a phone interview. But I was told that we needed "numbers" to fill up these meetings --even if we didn't intend to hire all of these people , we just needed "filler" there to make it look professional, so that the people we wanted to hire didn't think GCI was some sort of scam. At this point I was saying to myself "Jesus, these guys are going to huge lengths to make their clients think they had the resources to fill these contracts." It's in their name: GRASSROOTS CAMPAIGNS, INC. Their job is to build these massive campaigns, and they have contracts to fulfill. A simple business agreement - but it meant that they were more concerned about quantity over quality. I realized they'd done it with me too - just bring in as many recruits in as possible, as quickly as possible, regardless of what there is for them to do.

Finally, after five weeks in Boston learning how to run their canvass fundraising, I got myself assigned onto the MoveOn PAC campaign. They hadn't given us any information about it, but at least I would be going home to St Louis and getting to work there.

But my assigned region was in--ready for this?--Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, half of Wisconsin, the bottom part of Minnesota and a congressional district in Kansas. This was nothing -- one organizer had half of Colorado, and every state between Texas and Canada. We were expected to drive around my district constantly, and we would only be compensated 12c a mile. The12c a mile was also supposed to cover lodging, food, and car expenses. We would be responsible for the other half of our travel expenses.

(Later it was changed: we would get re-reimbursed for the first 300 miles of travel each week. Everything else (round trip) was on us. A trip to Las Crosse, WI from St. Louis (my turf) is 495 miles, one way.)

Once I was in Des Moines for a meeting. The temperature was -6. My tire blew out on the freeway. I sure didn' t have enough money to pay for it, and GCI wouldn't cover it (supposedly the 12c a mile was enough). I had to call my girlfriend and ask to use her credit card. If I didn't have her, I would have had to call my brothers or mother and asked them. Their question would have been, "Why won't your company pay for it?" My answer would have been: "Oh, because it's for the good of the campaign, and democracy."

Driving was not the only way that the organizers got screwed. Many organizers racked up $500 phone bills waiting for GCI to approve their land-lines. The re-imbursement checks were rarely on time and never for the full amount. This had to of been because of two things: A) sloppy accounting on account of the young inexperienced staff, or B) GCI was shifting funds by telling us the money was in the next check and then never paying us the full amount. Same with paychecks. Late, sometimes sent to the wrong locations, never direct deposited. Healthcare was so high a month that the plan GCI set up virtually went unused by its field staff. $270 a month -- how can a person making $25,000 a year before taxes afford that?

After months of this I was more broke then I have ever been. I was on my way into serious debt. What choice did I have? I had to pay for all these things to keep my job.

And for what?

I had some really amazing volunteers. I had one group in Madison Wisconsin that turned out 300+ people to remember the 2000th soldier killed in Iraq. I had a single woman read off the names of the dead in St. Joseph, MO.

But quite often, I was forcing members to work on issues that they didn't care for. In Missouri I had many volunteers wonder why they were calling into San Diego for Francine Busby and not into their own neighborhoods for Claire McCaskill. Same thing in Iowa. I often found myself lying to my volunteers to get them to follow through. Some of my volunteers were working full-time on this - and they were doing it because of my relationship with them! And I was only pushing them to do more so that I could keep my job. Because of this, I turned some really motivated people completely off politics .
Eventually the phones stopped ringing because people didn't care. We had strip-mined the grassroots, and this was only January!

I needed a break to spend time with my girlfriend and recharge - one of my supervisors told me this was ok, since it would be the last chance I get to do this before the campaign kicked into full gear.  But when I called my other supervisor, the response I got was: "Why? No one else is taking a break! Do you not believe in the campaign?"
I explained to him that I did, I have been doing campaigns going on for 4 years now, but I just needed a week to recharge.

"Oh? What is a week going to do for you? Do you really think that is going to help?? "Yes," I replied.
"I don't know. I don't think you believe in the campaign anymore."
No I do, I repeated.
"Listen Martin I don't know what has gotten into you, but you better kick it up in high gear again. You have been really slacking lately. You aren't getting the same numbers as you used too."

So at this point I knew it was over. I knew they didn't give a crap about me or how I felt. I was done. I sent an email the next day saying "I thinking about leaving staff and would like to talk to you about this, because I don't feel like my heart is in it anymore. I'll finish up at the end of the month and wrap everything up for you." The day after that I got a call from my direct supervisor "We are going to let you go at the end of the week."
And that was that.

I have since got a better job in progressive politics., and my girlfriend and I are engaged-- something she told me we would never be if I was still working for GCI. (I proposed a month after I quit.)  We had to fight really hard to get out of debt and pay off my bills, but finally things have straightened out.

My experience with GCI left me not just angry -- but a little embarrassed. I can't believe I got used like that. I can't believe I let myself use others for that. I fell for it hook line and sinker.

They hire from an endless supply of impressionable idealists who will buy their story, they make them work incredible hours with impossible demands, they pay them dirt and wear them down so they can't look for a new job,  so they have no where else to go, so you have to keep working for them.

GCI is not a progressive organization fighting for change; they are a company that is fixated upon growing its own model larger and larger, for less cost from them or their clients, by shifting as much cost as possible onto their staff. They are in business to stay in business, and it is so important to the progressive movement that this cycle is put to an end.  

Again, if you find our stories compelling, and you agree this issue must be addressed by MoveOn, please send an email to Eli Pariser (eli@moveon.org) and cc us at ChangeGCI@gmail.com (or just contact us directly there and we will update you with further information about how you can make your voice heard to MoveOn).

Tags: field organizing, GCI, Labor, MoveOn (all tags)

Comments

79 Comments

GCI are heroes

Working hard for little pay.  I know there should be changes but I dont understand the endless whining publicly.  Sometimes I smell a motive to demoralize progressive activists.  

If there are problems send the leaders letters, call them but do not do it publicly.  

And I can understand one diary but a diary week after week especially near the election really makes me question the motives of those that whine publicly.

by jasmine 2006-09-11 07:41AM | 0 recs
Sending letters

I worked for GCI in the 2004 Leave No Voter Behind campaign. I realized I would be working long hard hours for little pay, and I was happy to do that in light of what I perceived as the evil of the current administration.  What I wasn't prepared for was the cruelty of the GCI system. After the election, I wrote this letter to Wes and Joan at MoveOn.org:

7 January 2005

MoveOn.org
336 Bon Air Center #516
Millbrae CA  94904

Dear Wes and Joan,

I have been an active MoveOn member for several years; my activity peaked this past year in response to the initiatives of MoveOn PAC to defeat the incumbent president -- including a July houseparty, where newly established connections with guests led to my involvement in local politics.  In a number of ways, you have changed my life, and I am deeply indebted to you.

But I have some serious concerns. In September, Grassroots Campaigns Inc. hired me to be part of the Leave No Voter Behind program. I realize that Leave No Voter Behind is part of MoveOn PAC and that it is Eli's responsibility, but, a rose is still a rose is still a rose; MoveOn PAC is MoveOn.org, and I feel compelled to share these concerns with you as the founders of MoveOn.  Also, I sent an e-mail to Eli over two months ago and have received no reply.

This is my concern in a nutshell: Considering that MoveOn PAC was working to end the reign of an administration who disregards basic human rights, it is hypocritical that the organization MoveOn PAC contracted to undertake a major portion of the task did so with such blatant disregard for human rights. From the beginning of my association with GCI to the very end, I have been treated miserably, as have my coworkers.

I am fully aware that it is the nature of campaign work to be long, grueling hours of mostly thankless work. It does not seem to me, however, that such hard work necessarily entails being lied to, intimidated, told I was not devoted enough to the cause, and driven to work harder, doing more of the same for longer hours, when the model was clearly breaking down. Specific examples of these serious problems can be provided by many of us at your request.  

Frankly, I wish that in the initial interview I had been told that I would be working under a number of stringent conditions. First, that I not bring any of my experience or skills to the job, and that I was simply to do what I was told without questioning it or suggesting alternatives. Second, that I was to make no plans or have no expectations of my own but was to adjust instantly to GCI's ever-changing demands, again without questioning. Third, that I would be given information only on a need-to-know basis as related to the task in front of me, and would be called down for wanting to know any information beyond that. In other words, I would be treated in a fashion similar to the way the current occupant of the White House treats the American public.

I hate that I have to write you this letter. As I said at the beginning, I am a dedicated MoveOn member. I am an ordained Presbyterian minister with a Ph.D. in theology and years of experience with community development work overseas and in this country. I am not stupid, or a whiner, or merely a disgruntled employee who wants attention.  

Instead, I am seriously disturbed by the way in which GCI ran the Leave No Voter Behind campaign.  I am saying that everyone involved in the program should have been treated as the competent, talented people that they are. I am asking for us to be given a chance to openly critique the program so that the same mistakes will not be repeated in the future.  

The issues with which MoveOn is involved are far too important to be crippled by mismanagement and unfair labor practices.

Sincerely,
Becca Young
*

I did get a sympathetic phone call from Adam Reuben saying that they took my letter very seriously, but that was about it. It seems clear that such letters, which many of my co-workers sent as well, have had no effect. So I am glad for the chance to finally openly critique the program.

by becca 2006-09-11 08:19AM | 0 recs
Re: GCI are heroes

The record will show that jasmine supports our progressive activist troops. The record will presume that she also opposes cutting and running.

by MINUTE TAKER 2006-09-11 08:27AM | 0 recs
Re: GCI are heroes

"Whining?"

Not one of these diaries has complained about the general notion of working long hours for low pay.  However, doing so creates a lifestyle with little wiggle room for bullshit (like late paychecks, refusal to properly reimburse).  It is the bullshit part that people are complaining about (well, that and the fact that many feel they worked hard for a campaign that was ill-designed in the first place).  

Can you explain why GCI are "heroes"?  Haven't they lost in every campaign they've run?  Kerry? Lost. Energy Bill?  Passed.  For the MoveOn campaign, they went so far as to claim to have "secret, internal goals" when they feel short of their public goals.  GCI are heroes like the Detroit Lions are heroes, except that the Lions don't get to actually move the goalposts.

by Patton 2006-09-11 08:39AM | 0 recs
Re: GCI are heroes

I disagree.

The point is that the "model" has some pretty nasty negative externialities that no one has taken into account since it started 30 years ago.  It burns people out, both staff and donors.  It isn't effective at movement building, even when it has been effective at individual campaigns. The "whining" puts a human face on the harm the model does.  

The point is that the ends are noble, but the means can be improved.  That you have to "be the change you want to see in the world" if you want the change you create to last for more then a season.

As for the public calling out, putting pressure on clients is a legitimate way to change corporate policy.  Thats how, for example, some recent union victories have come about.

by dansomone 2006-09-11 08:58AM | 0 recs
Expanding on my point.

I disagree with GCI are heroes.

What we are doing is the fundamental practices that both GCI and MoveOn preach: bringing to light issues that have otherwise been ignored.

When you say "Sometimes I smell a motive to demoralize progressive activists" are you implying that we are trying to prevent activists from entering the field and prevent progressive change?

That could not be further from the truth. We are doing this becuase we see a need for reform so progressive activists will stay involved longer. So they will make this a life style.

Furthermore we also see a need to change the way GCI forces it's organizers to organize the members of MoveOn.org, we want activists to be excited about the work they are doing, not exhausted. I agree that this work is hard and reform is not an easy task, but these changes need to happen on a macro level- we need activists to come back and put thier learned skills from being on the ground to work and we need volunteers to help us. What we don't need is to have both ends of this "candle" burnt out. What light could we shine on injustice then?

by MartinSTL 2006-09-11 08:38AM | 0 recs
Re: MoveOn and GCI: still strip-mining the grassro

I worked on the MoveOn campaign in 2004 for Leave No Voter Behind. I found the experience to be both grueling and rewarding - I learned more about political activism and organizing than I presumably could have learned doing anything else. I am still in contact with all of my supervisors from that campaign, and they have been some of my greatest mentors over the past few years. I did not have a single problem with a paycheck or reimbursement - both from my time spent in a canvassing office (May-Sept) or on LNVB (Sept-Nov). There was one time when my healthcare was messed up, because of a digit being off in my social security number, but the person in the main office took care of the problem immediately while I was in the waiting room at my doctor.

I have also been in touch with my LNVB volunteers who continue to remain active in their local area, meet up with one another, and plan to volunteer for this years campaign with MoveOn to take back Congress. Former staff of mine from the canvassing office are continuing to be active in politics, some in the bureaucracy, some with GCI, and others with different activism-oriented organizations.

I am happy to say that all of my experiences have been the opposite of what you report.

Things weren't always rainbows and butterflies, but I reflect on my experience with a positive feeling. I didn't make much money, broke up with my boyfriend, and spent the entire week after Kerry's loss catching up on sleep - but what I walked away with is absolutely invaluable to me.

by elizabethBOS 2006-09-11 10:09AM | 0 recs
Re: MoveOn and GCI: still strip-mining the grassro

Out of more than two dozen people who I interviewed about LNVB, around one in ten of them had positive experiences like yours. And yet even those people agreed with the assessment of the campaign that was laid out, for example, here (that GCI ordered its organizers to over-recruit, at the expense of effectively leading their volunteers, in order to fulfill its contract) and here (that GCI disallowed its organizers from adapting the model in the best ways possible, in order that the model could be better controlled and duplicated in future elections).

So far, the proposal for GCI's fundraising model laid out here has met with widespread approval even from those who previously defended GCI against these posts.

None of these posts contain "complaints" about whether the work was "hard" or the pay was low -- nor do they say that every organizer was filled with hatred toward GCI, or that every manager was mean and incompetent. Since you had a different experience, we would like to hear what it was that you think went right, and what might be the difference between your experience and the rest of the campaign.

by greg bloom 2006-09-11 11:43AM | 0 recs
i liked working for GCI, others did too.

Well, I don't have a whole lot to say about the fundraising model. I think it was effective, and when implemented well, people really did learn and feel engaged in the campaign and the process. I agree with some of what you said, but then I think that you have to remember that the only reason the DNC could even undertake such a campaign is because it covered costs and was effective at doing so. I didn't realize at the time that it was a base-building effort, I didn't really care at the time to ask questions. Now I'm happy they have all of this grassroots support that we helped to generate. Sure, I ran into people who gave in the past - sure, I got them to contribute ... they were happy to do it, because they were happy to see a young person at there door, talking politics, and getting involved. I got more "thank you's" than anything. In terms of the organizing model for LNVB, yeah it was really only focused on recruitment. I questioned it at the time, I was frustrated by the fact that I didn't work more w/ my volunteers - but sometimes volume is more important than developing long term volunteers - I think elections are those times. Its about having a massive operation (hell, look at candidate campaigns - they do this all around the country independently). Volunteer development is for the quiet times in-between elections - I don't mean that volunteers should be treated poorly, but I understand that during election cycles, we should focus on the quantity of people involved.

You seem very defensive about the "hard work, low pay thing", as you address it in the response to every comment, whether or not its addressed in the  comment itself. I'm no psychologist, but I think your defensive nature about this resonates and is why people bring it up.

You say 1 in 10 people you've interviewed feel the same way as me. How scientific is your sampling? Don't people seek you out because they identify with how you feel? And don't people refer you to other people who can give you juicy stories? I just don't think that your methods warrant a lot of respect, because they don't go deep enough.

Sure, GCI lost a lot of good people, hell they lost me after the election! The bottom-line is that  a lot of people got their start w/ GCI because, quite simply, it was there and it was an option to get paid to do something they were passionate about. Not a lot of people get paid to do things they're passionate about. And that a lot of people got that "resume builder" and moved forward into their organizing career, I think is actually a testament to the fact that GCI does help the progressive movement.

If it were not for GCI would MoveOn have done a field project in 2004? Would another firm have taken on such a big project and been able to pull it off? Probably not.

I think that all of this posturing around a major election is not helpful to the campaign, and I think that you should just tone yourselves down until after the election. Now is not the time to implement change. I find it ironic that a lot of people critique LNVB for changing during the campaign (increased calling hours) - and now you're pushing them to change right before the campaign again! Let them run this campaign, let's see if there are substantial changes to the things you had problems with, and go from there. But for god's sake, let Eli Pariser focus on getting ready for '06.

by elizabethBOS 2006-09-11 01:55PM | 0 recs
Re: i liked working for GCI, others did too.

My methods weren't scientific, no. I knew about a dozen people from my DNC office who went to MoveOn (into about eight different offices), and I spoke with whoever I could track down; I'd met about eight people at training, so I spoke with most of them; in the course of these interviews, a few offices kept getting mentioned as instances in which things hadn't been FUBAR -- so I went and spoke with the organizers and directors of those offices. Altogether, I probably made contact with between 5-10% of the LNVB organizers -- and many of them spoke on behalf of their entire office staff -- and I've probably spoken with organizers from more than half of the offices in the country.  But the point when I was confident in my research came when the "good office" LOs informed me that they had defied their orders, made up their numbers, and let their FOs train their volunteers as needed. Maybe that was the case with your LO.

You avoided the question of whether you think GCI, consciously or not, strangled its own campaign in 2004; there is this weird moment when you almost acknowledge it, but then shrink back with a non-sequitur that makes it unclear once more whether you read my post.

You and jasmine both brought up the issue of low pay and hard work--it comes up every time someone defends the model--so yes I end up repeating myself a lot. "It's hard work for crap pay!" is the first line of defense against critical thought about whether a campaign is working or not. The people engaged in this conversation are people who want to do this work, even if it's hard -- who have plenty of other hard working, low pay campaign experience -- and yet they believe that this work is not working, that it is doing more harm than good. And they care too much about the progressive movement to simply be mollified by the bullet-point on their resume. Some of them come from much higher up the GCI ladder than you or I. You appear unwilling to question the word of authority (you even seem perfectly fine with being lied to about the true ends of your fundraising efforts) but the people here are thinking critically and advocating for better practices and better campaigns.

When one of the Left's largest organizations runs a field campaign that fails disastrously, and then continues to fail for another year running, I think two months before an election is a fine time to pressure it to stop failing. I think Eli's members would want him to be doing everything he can to make sure that their efforts are not being wasted.

In the meantime, Elizabeth, please stick around to hear more from organizers who were in GCI long after you and I left.

by greg bloom 2006-09-11 02:56PM | 0 recs
Re: i liked working for GCI, others did too.

This is actually the point where I'd love to see that new book Greg plugs every now and then.  I keep babbling about negative externialities.  But I really don't have the data.

What I'd love to find out is how many staff actually get burnt out versus how many people go on into other political or activist careers.  How many donors just donate the one time, how many donate repeatedly, how many become volunteers, and how many people just get annoyed.

Without some hard data, we're pretty much just spitting into the wind.  :(

by dansomone 2006-09-11 04:19PM | 0 recs
Re: MoveOn and GCI: still strip-mining the grassro

Well this doesn't surprise me. Companies like GCI use and abuse young people who don't know any better. The manipulate young and naive idealistic people right out of college and work them to death. It's quite ironic that organizations ostensibly fighting against corporations that abuse their employees, trying to gain support for minimum wage increases, and striving to protect unions use the same tactics that they deplore on their on workforce.

I had a similiar experience with another nonprofit. Years after the fact I'm still suffering from the financial loss. I ended up moving to another state for a job that didn't really exist.

by jiacinto 2006-09-11 10:22AM | 0 recs
Re: MoveOn and GCI:

rather glad I didn't get the GCI job I applied for....

by buffalo girl 2006-09-11 11:02AM | 0 recs
Re: MoveOn and GCI:

And I am glad that I turned down 2 Fund/PIRG jobs right out of college.  I don't know if I would still be working in this field had I had experiences like these people went through.

by juls 2006-09-11 01:49PM | 0 recs
Re: MoveOn and GCI: still strip-mining the grassro

I hear you right there buffalo girl.  I came into a GCI office to see few staff workers and few volunteers.  I had more than enough credentials to work there, but they decided not to hire me.  After reading all the horror stories, not just on this blog, I'm kinda glad they didn't.

by vmo 2006-09-11 01:19PM | 0 recs
Re: MoveOn and GCI: still strip-mining the grassro

vmo, it was probably your credentials that ensured you didn't get the job.  GCI would rather hire someone inexperienced/naive enough to work his ass off without asking any questions than someone with great organizing experience who would clue into their lies, manipulation, and exploitation.

by sma 2006-09-11 04:40PM | 0 recs
So why rehash this week after week

What is your motive?  MoveOn, GCI have noble purpose.  There may be problems with some implementation  but in life and at work--not all bosses, supervisors in good companies are good--some are a problem.

What I cannot understand why rehash this week after week after week.  I am sorry but I smell a motive to demoralize.

by jasmine 2006-09-11 04:49PM | 0 recs
Re: So why rehash this week after week

Jasmine, have you not heard the term "the ends don't justify the means"? What about that do you not understand?

Why rehash it?? Because organizations that we respect and put a lot of effort into are utilizing this organization that ABUSES its employees! They go against everything that the Democratic Party stands for and it should not stand.

We'll shut up when GCI and companies like GCI become irrelevant and when our party and organizations we support (like MoveOn) see the error of their ways and stop giving them money.

by bridgetdooley 2006-09-11 05:45PM | 0 recs
Re: So why rehash this week after week

Jasmine- how do you know that the people behind MoveOn have noble means? Actions talk, bullshit walks. MoveOn is proving what so many activists have been saying for a long time- they are not part of any movement.

On another note- has anyone seen MoveOn's voter files laying around someplace? Seems to me that not only did they screw the people working for them, they left behind nothing to build upon.

I know that MoveOn was the first to realize the power of e-mail lists, and Wes Boyd must know what is right for the progressive movement (esp. the plight of young, working class people) since he made a fortune making toasters fly across computer screens, but really, can't we all just come together and agree that MoveOn is not helping progressives in any way, shape or size (outside of raising money, which the MUCH more Democratic blogosphere can do just fine).

by Alex Urevick 2006-09-11 08:51PM | 0 recs
Re: So why rehash this week after week

"(outside of raising money, which the MUCH more Democratic blogosphere can do just fine)."

Sorry, no.  The blogs are great at raising early money and attention, and are very low cost, but they do NOT roll in the big bucks.  Look at the numbers over at actblue, and look at the numbers people like Hillary roll in, or the $2000/plate dinners with 500 people.  

Massive ground operations have their place, the question is can you do it more effectively.

And that, Jasmine, is the point.  I don't think anyone who worked for GCI for months or years, as some of us have, disagree with the goal.  I just think that if they acted to reduce turnover, increase moral, be less top down, etc, they would actually make it to the goal.  The progressive movement has been on the decline for 30 years, and continueing to eat our seed corn by burning out young, passionate people will not turn it around.

I agree that the timing could be better, but remember, in 04, the big moveon training had not even happened by this point!  There is still plenty of time.

by dansomone 2006-09-12 05:10AM | 0 recs
Re: So why rehash this week after week

"Massive ground operations have their place, the question is can you do it more effectively."

As someone who identifies as an activist and not a "blogger" or netroots person, I most definitely agree with you 100%.

I don't think that this model is effective for ground operations either, and I think Greg covered that quite well in his series.

by Alex Urevick 2006-09-12 01:23PM | 0 recs
Re: So why rehash this week after week

We have all agreed that there is a purpose that is noble behind both GCI and MoveOn!  But having recently parted ways with both organizations, the way I was treated was unacceptable.  They need to learn to practice what they are preaching.  

Taking advantage of people's passion and desire for change is demoralizing.  And we are not whining; we are starting a movement.  Starting the process by finally vocalizing what is happening, exposing the things that are happening, in a first hand and personal experiences.  

I envy those who have had positive experiences, but I konw I am one of many and look forward to seeing reform that will only happen if we work towards it.  

by Future Senator D 2006-09-11 09:28PM | 0 recs
ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS

Couldn't it be argued that the stated "purposes" of the Iraq War were noble?

Actions speak MUCH louder than "purposes" and these two groups have shown their complete and total disregard for both working men and women AS WELL as the progressive movement as a whole.

If anyone wants to get lulled to sleep with their noble lullibies then that's their perogative. I'll keep my eyes open and watch the wolves who have been let into the henhouse.

by Alex Urevick 2006-09-12 06:21AM | 0 recs
Re:

Demoralize?!  That's what they do! That's why we are taking a stand.

by GCILies 2006-09-11 07:30PM | 0 recs
Liberal Scammers are still Scammers

I saw them at a job fair that Democratic Gain put on. I set up an interview, but when I saw the pay and talked with the kids who they had recruiting for them I was like "you've got to be fucking kidding me." These people are not serious about anything accept their scam. And yes, it's a scam (lets call a spade a spade) and obviously set up to take advantage of the good intentions of idealistic and "green" young people.

These guys are immoral jokers and rip-off/BS artists, hell, half the people whove scammed me in my life have claimed all of the best intentions, I'm sorry you all got scammed by them, but to some degree it should have been obvious.

Don't get scammed! These people will, more times than not, use you, abuse you, then dump you with so little compasion it would make WalMart blush.

And to all the "progressive" groups out there who allow this attrocious behavior from their contractors, shame on you!

Keep up the good fight!

BTW- to the people who say "quit whining!" OK. I'll stop whining and just say a nice "shove it!" right back. If you want to work like a slave for below the minimum wage, then go ahead. For those of us who do activism full time, your words are stabs in the back.

I'm an activist, meaning I act, not talk. That doesn't mean that I deserve to get ripped off by GCI, ACORN, the PIRGS, or any other so-called progressive organization that shits on their workers. I am idealistic. I am not a sucker.

Where the hell did the plight of working men and women, including those working for our party and political groups, become "whining"?

by Alex Urevick 2006-09-11 08:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Liberal Scammers are still Scammers

This is becoming totaly absurd.  You and Greg are calling everything big a failure.  ACT, Moveon, ACORN, PIRG, GCI.  In whatever analysis it is you have, you somehow concluded that this is all a failure and in fact these people are the opposition.

Its just not credible or facutal.  

I agree with those who say wait until after the election to see what changes happen both in terms of the impact of the programs you hate (look at some real numbers and analysis not some series of opinion pieces), and the changes that happen or don't happen that relate to Greg's litany of implementational complaints over the last year.

by Orlando 2006-09-12 06:33AM | 0 recs
Failure

Again we have someone who either is not an activist or who doesn't have to worry about what being an activist means in terms of putting a roof over ones head and food on the table.

Besides, all of those groups ARE failures, as they are all indicitive of the decline of the left. How have those environmental regulations been going? How about a national minimum wage? ACORN and the PIRGs have been around for a long time and what have they lead to? They sure as hell HAVE NOT helped lead Democrats back into the majority. Why? Because they take in young activists, exploit the living hell out of them, then spit them out.

And ACT and MoveOn are successes? Uh, do you remember the election in 2004. How'd ACT do in their top target areas? (Florida, Ohio, hell even PA- where only the youth vote ensured Kerry didn't lose this gimme state).

Again- if you want to get ripped off by a group propoting to fight against rip-offs, go ahead.

by Alex Urevick 2006-09-12 07:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Failure

Ok.  You totally made your point and mine all in one.

First off, your comments and assumptions about me are factually wrong on both accounts and totally insulting.

Furthermore if you can't measure achievment in terms other than failure v everything else, you are not the kind of activist I would want to trust to win anything.  (BTW, what are your major accomplishments lately)

Evaluate on numbers, understand context (like ACORN registering over 1 million voters but they must have failed in your mind because John Kerry lost).  Uh, they won an initiative in Florida and they certainly made it that much closer of a race)

There are lots of ways you could evaluate these groups and  winning of the presidency is not the only yard stick.

While you have been venting, these groups actually have been getting stuff done even if you don't like the way they do it.  They did register millions of voter, raise millions of dollars, turnout millions of voters.

You may call it all failure, but then you should leave them to it and focus on your own successful brand of activism whatever that is.

by Orlando 2006-09-12 09:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Failure

OK, I don't mean to insult you, but I do get personally insulted when I feel people insnuate that activists don't deserve to get treated with respect and earn a decent pay, which is what I felt your comment did. Your point was about whether these programs will work to turn out voters, fine, they may work, but will likely not do to the high attrition and low morale. I am also concerned though with the long term effects of "strip-mining the grassroots" and what it means for creating/maintaining a large core of activists over the next 20 years.

BTW, what are your major accomplishments lately

Stay tuned, I'll be writing a lot more about them soon.

There are lots of ways you could evaluate these groups and  winning of the presidency is not the only yard stick.
True. The other one that I'm measuring them about is their overall effect on the movement, which is terrible.

I'll avoid talking any more about ACORN or the PIRGs here, we can argue with them on another thread if you like.

And I will focus on my own successful brand of activism in the upcoming weeks. Maybe you didn't notice the first post on the site?

by Alex Urevick 2006-09-12 01:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Failure

I agree with pretty much all you've said except for lumping ACT in with this group.

How'd ACT do in their top target areas? They increased Democratic voter turnout by hundreds of thousands of voters in urban areas, which was exactly their goal. It's just that the other side increased their vote totals by even more than we did.

How do we know this was the case? Because post-election polling found that people were just as likely to be contacted by an ACT organizer as by the Republicans.

Don't blame ACT for losing in 2004. Blame John Kerry for being a crappy candidate.

by the wanderer 2006-09-12 04:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Failure

I definitely let my emotions get the best of me there.

Thinking more about it, my main criticism of ACT is not how the employed people, my main criticism of them is that they disapeared after the election and took all of their contacts and voter files with them.

So, in otherwords, I'll retract that part of my criticism. You can't blame ACT that Kerry was a horrible candidate who ran a terrible campaign. And from my experiences as a volunteer in 2004 I didn't really find any people who complained about ACT, other than the org was a little unweildly.

But, MoveOn had a ton of disgruntled employees, mostly because of two major issues- they were late in paying their employees and the MoveOn leadership was completely unresponsive.

by Alex Urevick 2006-09-12 05:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Liberal Scammers are still Scammers

OK let's keep something clarified here. Greg has not mentioned ACT or ACORN at all. And this discussion is only about MoveOn because MoveOn employs GCI, which is an offshoot of PIRG/Fund. Alex is right that these problems are present throughout the Left (in fact, this is one of the central contentions of Crashing the Gate, though it's the one that receives the least attention on the blogs), but what we're engaged in here is a concrete analysis of a specific model. And as someone who did much of the implementation of that model, I don't see a "litany" of "complaints" here. I see indictment.

And, from what I understand about GCI's turnover in the last year, it seems like the MOFOs who've posted so far actually lasted longer in their jobs than the majority of their fellow organizers. That would mean that they're not just complaining, but that they have the credibility to testify, since they stuck it out longer than most. Like myself. The point they are making is that what happened in 2004 continued to happen and is still happening. As someone responsible for GCI's campaign in 2004, I believe that is a concrete discussion and it needs to happen now. Sorry if it disrupts your horserace watching.

by Lockse 2006-09-12 07:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Liberal Scammers are still Scammers

Sorry Orlando, but I've seen what they've got, and it looks like there's plenty more to come.

As for credibility and facts--do you know what the plural of anecdote is?

by greg bloom 2006-09-12 07:34AM | 0 recs
What is Jasmine saying?

is jasmine saying that we are some sort of right wing operatives disguised as former GCI employees?

"I smell a motive to demorilize."? Are you kidding me? Take off your rose colored glasses and look around. This is about people getting screwed out of thier opportunity to participate. GCI is shifting the cost onto it's employees, talk to any GCI staff about expenses and you will see that is what is happening.

Progressive means being pragmatic. It means trying to make everything around you the best it can be. That is why we are doing this, we want GCI to reform so the next crop of organizers will stay in and complete the job, not 98% turn-over that is the direct effect if these policies.

by MartinSTL 2006-09-11 08:47PM | 0 recs
Re: MoveOn and GCI: still strip-mining

Well this explains why all the local and state level campaigns are being choke out of existanse. That is where people use to get this type of experience in the old days. As to leave no voter behind it was the stupidiest thing i'd ever seen. That combined with the Act and other mass registration has so screwed up the voter files and pissed voters off it's very hard to figure out which way is up anymore more. There are precients in this country that now have 12% turn out because 60% of the people were more or less harrassed to register in 2004. It also encouraged the democratic party to waste tons of resources in places where they shouldn't have. All this grabage has done is further delude the party into thinking they can win just by turning out the cities and ignore everything else which is almost impossible anymore. But the party refuses to get a CLUE.

by orin76 2006-09-11 09:35PM | 0 recs
What is your purpose then

Why rehash this week after week?  How do you know they havent made changes already since you have not been working there for some time?  Is GCI rich or have enough resources to pay big wages that you want?

In good times--when there is no emergency to take back the country then there is time to make all things perfect but this is not the time.

I really question all your motives.

by jasmine 2006-09-12 04:22AM | 0 recs
Re: What is your purpose then

by little brudda 2006-09-12 05:28AM | 0 recs
Re: What is your purpose then

by little brudda 2006-09-12 05:33AM | 0 recs
Re: What is your purpose then

by little brudda 2006-09-12 05:35AM | 0 recs
Re: What is your purpose then

Is GCI rich or have enough resources to pay big wages that you want?

She insists on discrediting herself by bringing this back to our supposed request for wages. And yet, scrape off the bullshit and there's a good question in there: if GCI wanted to prove that it's doing the best it can, it could open the books. If a client were compelled to hold GCI accountable, it could force it to open the books. If the workers went on strike, they could demand that GCI open the books. (Not that i'm quite recommending a strike...with GCI's attrition rate, it would hardly notice, and would really only have to just kick recruitment up another notch.)

Oh and back to jasmine--do you like it when the Administration questions the motives of those who critique its policies? What does that even mean?

by esteban 2006-09-12 05:51AM | 0 recs
Re: What is your purpose then

Actually, I think the "we can't afford to pay a living wage" thing is a valid response.  That's why Greg put a good deal of effort into showing how constructive changes could lead to less campaign expenses/time spent for better effects.

Specifically, a relatively minor decrease in attrition would mean less time on recruitment, which would mean better training for people you keep longer... which in the end means less hours worked for better results.  I think everyone can agree that's a good end point, the question is how to get there.  Greg is positing that a less top down structure would help a great deal, Martin is suggesting that reasonable reimbursement rates and on time payments would help.  I don't think Jasmine's "don't criticize that just undermines the commander in chief" thing helps much, but that's just me.

by dansomone 2006-09-12 06:03AM | 0 recs
No, it is not

Unless you want to pay for the food, gas, health care, clothes, etc. of these people then it is completely unacceptable for a progressive group to exploit their workers so cravenly.

Again, I'll ask, where did the plight of working Americans go in the progressive movement? Or are blogs stuffed with so many kids of professional/rich people that they just can't comprehend?

Labor should be the place where every single progressive group comes together. This isn't possible when the groups whom make up such a large chunk of the movement pay less than it takes to get by.

An army lives or dies on its stomach, starve our progressive ground troops and we LOSE.

by Alex Urevick 2006-09-12 06:34AM | 0 recs
Re: No, it is not

I agree that labor is somewhere progressives should come together.  My family actually tells the story of labor in this country pretty well, my grandparents were either union members or worked feeding union members, my dad is a union member but my mom isn't, and I've never worked at a unionized workplace.  :(

And I think you're misinterpreting the argument.  It's not that we (or at least I) think it's cool to pay crappy pay rates.  But I recognize that the bottom line matters to these organizations, and so I would rather argue based on efficiency then morality.  

I don't think this is the place to address the class/race issues that the "model" reinforces, it deserves it's own thread.  But let's just say that if the entry into "activism" careers pays less then a living wage, it means that most activists are going to be white, upper class folks who have parents or trust funds to help.  Matt Yglesis has actually written a bit about this in reference to internships at progressive media outlets.  It's definately a problem.

by dansomone 2006-09-12 07:24AM | 0 recs
Re: No, it is not

Word. It really shouldn't be on this thread, and as I said somewhere else, sorry for taking it in a different, and less constructive direction. You all are doing a great thing by bringing this to light- THANK YOU!

by Alex Urevick 2006-09-12 12:59PM | 0 recs
Let me eat off your plate...

You really must be rich, since you don't seem to get why people need to make enough money to eat.

So- how about cutting a chunk out of your trust fund for hungry activists?

by Alex Urevick 2006-09-12 06:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Let me eat off your plate...

You really are a jerk.  I just checked out your site  based on two comments on the entire front page I must be one of a dozen people to do so.  Nice to see you going after MFA though.  Keep up the good work tearing down the left and anyone who works to get something done but doesn't meet your standard of perfection.  In terms of failure, I just got the Moveon email...

"You're doing a great job. Together, we've made more than 273,212 calls--amazing! Now, we're ready to turbo charge Call for Change with something a little different and a whole lot of fun--making calls together at house parties. This weekend--September 16th and 17th--there'll be hundreds of house parties across the country to help build Call for Change."

I am sure you have done better than 273,212 phone calls.  I am sure getting this done 50+ days out from the election is a clear sign of failure for you.

Maybe you are not a jerk.  Maybe I got that wrong, but surely you are smart enough to figure out that your anger is taking you off track and clouding your judgement.

by Orlando 2006-09-12 09:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Let me eat off your plate...

This whole tangent is taking us off track. Orlando, certainly you don't think that all of us here are just complaining about pay, right? And Alex, we can take things one at a time, otherwise we'll never get anyone to listen to us--right?

In the meantime, Orlando, they said they had half a million voters sign in with us during LNVB. It's a joke. What are they going to do, say "Call for Change has been crap so far because none of our organizers will stay in the job for more than a month and every volunteer we recruited in the last year has come and gone several times over!" ?

by esteban 2006-09-12 10:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Let me eat off your plate...

I made calls on the Moveon system during the Lamont Primary VICTORY. eh hem.  It tracked every attempt and contact electronically.  If they are using that system for their calling then I believe their numbers.

I think you have to have more evidence that they are lying before you believe folks like Alex.  Or Greg for that matter, because my experience is that on this series of postings everyone is negative about the experience, but in life I mostly encounter people who have a mich wider range of expriences with all of these groups, and the dominant theme is we worked hard, it sucked we lost.  We have to do better the next time.

Which is what I am off to do.

Bye.

by Orlando 2006-09-12 10:53AM | 0 recs
This whole tangent is taking us off track

"This whole tangent is taking us off track"

I apologize from distracting from the issue at hand. I think the PIRG model is horrible in general for the progressive movement, and always has been, but that's not what this thread is about.

My bad.

by Alex Urevick 2006-09-12 12:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Let me eat off your plate...

Listen dude, I'm sorry if I'm being abbrasive, but this cuts close to the bone for me, since I too am trying to make activism my career. And yes, I will keep on tearing down those aspects of the movement that are hurting our efforts to create a majority, sorry if you don't like that.

I'm not "going after MFA" because I'm a jerk, I'm going after them because I believe in the founding idea of the org, and the vision espoused by the original MFA crew, and I was devestated by the terrible direction that they took after 2004. If you think that this is based on anger, and not science, then I don't know what to say. I put plenty of research on the site to prove my points. I am not giving up on MFA, and though I don't volunteer directly for them at the moment, who knows what tomorrow might bring. (And yes, MFA pays their employees living wages) I do know that they had a model for success, and it is a model that I am currently rolling out in PA. If you're in the area and want to check us out, we'll be working tons of concerts, parties, and events over the next few weeks trying to get young people to register and get to the polls. Hell, if you like music and want to see a free show, then come by and give us a hand.

And this doesn't have to do with how many calls MoveOn claims it received, it's about the fact that they use exploitive labor practices to meet those goals, and are actively hurting the grassroots in the two ways that I mentioned above. Those who exploit people like myself are the ones tearing down the left, or more accurately- preventing the left from taking back our nation.

I know some people would like to seperate the class issues from this discussion, but I just don't see how that's possible.

BTW- the site has been up for a few weeks and we haven't promoted it at all, but thanks for checking it out!

Also- can you tell me how effective MoveOn's phone banking, or any phone banking for that matter is, in relation to other forms of outreach?

by Alex Urevick 2006-09-12 12:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Let me eat off your plate...

Alex, your implication that the wages for these jobs do not provide enough money to eat or are poverty-level is simply untrue.

According to a recent ad, the starting salary is $24,000.

That's about the same as the national median income per household member.  Thus, it's not credible to suggest $24,000/year is a starvation wage--that means you're suggesting half the country makes starvation wages, which is not true.

Whether $24,000/year is enough to attract and retain high quality staff, that's another matter.    However, that's an efficiency/effectiveness question, and not one of morality/exploitation.

by dal27 2006-09-12 09:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Let me eat off your plate...

You forget that after taxes and actually expenses that each organizer has to pay for out of pocket, plus all the travel, whittle that $24,000 salary down to nothing each pay period. So it's actually not that much.

Also people who make that salary aren't traveling hundreds of miles and refiling thier cars with gas on a daily basis. Most likely they either take the bus, walk to work or stay with county limits.

That is not the case in GCI.

by MartinSTL 2006-09-12 10:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Let me eat off your plate...

I am not arguing that $24,000/year is a ton of money, or that people who earn $24K/year can afford to spend freely on entertainment, save lots of money to buy a house, or rent the nicest apartment in town.  Depending on where you live (and the cost of living), it likely amounts to something close to a paycheck-to-paycheck existence.  But it does not amount to poverty/starvation.  To suggest that college-educated people who choose to make $24K/year making a difference instead of working for them man are "exploited" trivializes the plight of millions of Americans who are actually expolited, who have no other choice but to work at walmart for poverty/starvation wages, who earn much less than $24K/year working in jobs like cashier (median salary of $14K), office clerk (median salary of $20K), janitor (median salary of $18K), laborer (median salary of $20K), or waiter (median salary of $13K).  

I thought the chapter in Crashing the Gate that talked about how the salaries paid by progressive causes is an obstacle to building an effective progressive movement was well-argued. However, the question it really poses isn't, "is the current pay for these jobs exploitative?" --it's not.  The question is, "is the current pay for these jobs inefficient? Would higher salaries increase the quality/experience level of the people doing the work, thus leading to more impact on the issues per dollar spent?"

by dal27 2006-09-12 11:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Let me eat off your plate...

Well, at least in terms of Martin's post, the question of exploitation came up because of all of the other expenses of running a campaign--which are roundly passed off to the organizers, and which can easily drag down into debt someone who's living paycheck to paycheck. Do you consider 12c  a mile (when the Federal gov stipulates 40.5) to be exploitative enough? I wouldn't compare GCI's employees to impoverished people, but I still think it's morally and legally unacceptable that, in -6 degree weather, Martin had to call his girlfriend to get money to change a tire, when his employer was forcing him to drive what must have been over a thousand miles a week.

And for what? I bet MoveOn could afford to keep its organizers on the road. The question is whether GCI is willing to invest that basic amount into its labor force. (If it were any other business, do you think this shit would fly?)

by esteban 2006-09-12 11:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Let me eat off your plate...

First of all, orlando and alex gotta hang off each other. There's no reason to be calling each other names, especially since neither of you are really arguing about the specific issue at hand.

And dal, I don't know any GCI vets who complain about the salary itself. However, the issue is the out-of-pocket expenses that come out all over the place, and the tendency for GCI to treat reimbursements like a privilege.

That is a moral issue. GCI should be able to pay to fly its organizers to trainings, it is morally and legally obligated to fully compensate for the cost of daily work--and it is reprehensible that Kelly would be lied to and deceived about her money once they'd fired her. People are already just making enough to get by; this kind of stuff can send someone into serious debt, like Martin.

I got all my money back from GCI--though I had to fight for it. Plenty of others were not so lucky. And if employees aren't considered worth reimbursing for the work they do, then of course the entire management structure is going to consider them non-entities in every other way.

by esteban 2006-09-12 10:15AM | 0 recs
fair enough...

You are correct that it is above the poverty line, when they actually pay their staff. On the other hand it certainly comes in below the minimum wage.

I obviously disagree that it's not a question of morality/exploitation, but if you feel that taking advantage of the idealism of young people and the hard times that those with that idealism have making a living out of a career in activism, as GCI most definitely does, then that's your perogative.

by Alex Urevick 2006-09-12 12:55PM | 0 recs
Greg You Lied or Just Made Stuff Up

Greg,

I cannot believe that more people that know more about the leave no voter behind campaign have not call you out on a bold face lie or you just making stuff up.

1 out of 10 organizers on that campaign were happy with experiences?

I have talked to some of my former peeps at the Fund. I believe that about half the staff was from the Fund/Pirg. I not sure of the actual number, but I will give you the benefit of the doubt and just say that it was 25% and that all 75% non PIRG people had a bad experience (not true, unless Elizabeth was the only one).

Lets use some math:
500 organizers means that only 50 had a good experience (that is 1 out of 10).
125 were from PIRG (25% of 500)
375 were non PIRG (75% 0f 500)
450 people would be unhappy under Greg's claim.
450-375= 75 Pirg people would be unhappy

That would mean that 60% of PIRG staff was unhappy with the campaign to make your statement true. Somehow Greg I doubt that is true.

Lets keep in mind that I gave Greg a huge benefit of the doubt we these numbers.

Also, you cannot find 50 non PIRG people that had a good experience. Please.

So even if you are talking about non PIRG people I think that you are a little off.

Most offices had staff that all felt the same way, shocking. That might make you think that you made be off on your claim.

Greg I know that you later clarified that it was a mistake (you kind of did), but not until Elizabeth called you out on it.

Otherwise it would be out there as the truth to some if not most of the people that read it.

I think Jasmine may be going somewhere with the whole motives thing.

As soon as your argument came down to defined actual math (it does not lie) your arguments fail.
I know that people who call me a Pirg-Bot (Greg I do not think you are one) hate when we back thing up with numbers. Sorry.

Greg you are gearing up to be the Bill O'Reilly of progressive organizing commentary.

by thegatekeeper 2006-09-12 09:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Greg You Lied or Just Made Stuff Up

Dude. Fund staff were brought in as half of the Lead Organizer staff, not the Field Organizers. And while we're talking, I've spoken with a number of Fund staffers who curse the name of GCI; we've been through all this already, you're a little too late. But that was an amusing attempt at, uh, "backing things up." Is this really the best the PIRGlars can do?

In the meantime, you just called Greg more names than he's called anyone all summer--and he's not even leading this conversation any more. I forget who said it first here, but: bring a better game or start asking these questions yourself.

by hoboninja 2006-09-12 10:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Greg You Lied or Just Made Stuff Up

He was wrong, face it.

I already brought up the fact that his claim probably not even hold up that 1 out of 10 non PIRG People we not happy. Even if his phrased it to exclude PIRG people or Lead Organizers it still does have enough credibility to it to make that claim.

Even if some PIRG people cursed GCI, he cannot in good faith my that claim.

Also, I know people who for PIRG who were not Lead Organizers.

Greg started this whole thing on the blogs. He
made the claim in this very diary.

I said that he lied, but did not call him a liar. Then I went out of the way to say that he is not someone how calls people PirgBots.

Fine I made an analogy to Bill O'Reilly, but that is what Bill does make things thing up and finds anything to back up his arguments.

So maybe I have called him more names than he has other people. The score is 1 to 0.

How many times has PirgBot came up? Did you get mad at them?

Someone defends GCI so you say that we have been through this already. Then you continue to go after them since at least July 18th (that is the date of your link) with no end in sight.

When I was just calling Greg out on a lie not even some much defending GCI or the FUND.

by thegatekeeper 2006-09-12 10:37AM | 0 recs
Silly pirgbot

by little brudda 2006-09-12 10:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Greg You Lied or Just Made Stuff Up

I worked in the Cincinnati MoveOn office.  There were 13 of us, inclding the LO's.  Zero of us enjoyed the experience, felt the campaign was effective, or would otherwise say it was "positive."  Now, you can call us all pussies or Bill O'Reillys or whatever, but only a brainwashed PIRGer (or a GCI  sockpuppet) could actually be proud of that effort.

by Patton 2006-09-12 10:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Greg You Lied or Just Made Stuff Up

500-13= 487

Maybe Greg is right which I highly doubt, but he does not have anywhere nearly enough infomation to make his claim.

BTW- Thanks calling me names twice already and I am the one that is calling people too many names.

by thegatekeeper 2006-09-12 11:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Greg You Lied or Just Made Stuff Up

For what it's worth, I never complained about name-calling.  I am fine with you calling anyone names, including me.  Do you even dispute that you are a brainwashed PIRGer?  'Cause I know I'm a bit of an asshole, so maybe we can call ourselves even.  I'm also using my real name (my last name is "Price").

Greg has done a great deal of research into his thesis, and he has defended it thoughtfully.  Most of the dissenting opinions we've seen here have been driven by the same stock contentions.  Perhaps you take issue with him using qualitative analysis instead of quantitative.  That would certainly be a valid critique, even if it is one that I wouldn't necessarilly buy.  

I would never present my opinions as being a result of the kind of ordered inquiry that Greg has led, but my conversations with MoveOn organizers (mostly from Ohio) have--if anything--shown Greg's conclusions to be spot-on.  Do you honestly expect him to have a "sample" of 100% before he starts making judgments?  

by Patton 2006-09-12 11:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Greg You Lied or Just Made Stuff Up

I agree I could care less if someone calls me a PirgBot or any other name. I was just making a point since I was called such a name caller.

No I do not think that I am brain washed PirgBot. All though it has nothing to do with what I brought up. I do think that their approach does way more good than harm. So, I get since I mostly agree with their approach in your minds and other I am a PirgBot.

Greg is a smart guy, he has made some good arguments, however he should know that his sample comes no where near fact. People who have problems with GCI are much more likely to come to him. I find it easy to believe that people in the same office would share the same feelings, and so on.

by thegatekeeper 2006-09-12 12:16PM | 0 recs
Are you kidding me?

So let me get this straight....
first you insinuate that we are actually right wing bloggers by pulling a right wing tactic- you make up a complete unbased lie:
I think Jasmine may be going somewhere with the whole motives thing.
and
Sometimes I smell a motive to demoralize progressive activists.  

and then you say:
Greg you are gearing up to be the Bill O'Reilly of progressive organizing commentary.

So who is the Bill O'Reilly here?  We are trying to get this information out so we see reform. You are trying to bury it as an absurd claim.

Thanks for your help Bill, maybe you should go back to work at GCI or Fox, whichever one you work for.

by MartinSTL 2006-09-12 10:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Are you kidding me?

No I do not think that Greg or anyone else is a right wing operative nor did I ever say that.

I agree with Jasmine that some people's motives seem to be a little misplaced.

Greg made up facts like Bill does and I did not.

by thegatekeeper 2006-09-12 10:39AM | 0 recs
You've gotta do better than this.

I know that you feel that it's just unfair for people to be criticizing these campaigns when these people work so hard...but you're not helping your cause. You're really not.

by Lockse 2006-09-12 11:20AM | 0 recs
Re: You've gotta do better than this.

Again I never said that people should not criticize any of the campaigns that GCI has run. I also did not say that GCI/PIRG is immune from it because they work so hard, which they should not be.

I called Greg out on his facts.

What I have gotten in response is words being put in my mouth and insults.

And you wonder why GCI does not want to respond?

by thegatekeeper 2006-09-12 11:28AM | 0 recs
Re: You've gotta do better than this.

But the only "fact" that you've called into question is his claim to have spoken with more than 25 veterans about their LNVB experience. Considering the fact that Greg worked on this for a year and a half before blogging a word, and considering that even I know five or six people (from outside my office too) who thought it was a disaster...I'm thinking you're going to need to do better than just hopping up and down and saying "nuh-huh" like a child.

GCI doesn't respond because their best defense is silence (unless they were to suddenly decide that they are ready to talk about how to make things better). You, however, are not helping them.

by hoboninja 2006-09-12 11:45AM | 0 recs
Re: You've gotta do better than this.

Yes, it is one fact. 90% of their employees on one of their campaigns (one of their biggest ever) had a bad experience. You know on tiny little fact.

Maybe their best defense of silence is because what was said back to me when I was not even really giving a full on defense. I was just pointing out Greg's fact gathering ability and that it could be linked to motives.

If, he spent a year and half then that is all the more reason he should of gotten it right or not said it at all.  

by thegatekeeper 2006-09-12 12:24PM | 0 recs
Re: You've gotta do better than this.

Ok, here is the response:

I was an AD in Boston door.  We had absolutely no canvassers return in 2005 from our 2004 canvass.  (well, one came back for about 2 days, but that hardly counts).  Canvassers voted with their feet.  Please tell me how that builds a movement?  :(

Of the salaried people I knew in Boston, few, if any, were happy with the way GCI treated staff.  And no, it wasn't about the pay.  One of the largest issues, as an example, was the fact that we had a handful of really over-qualified canvassers that would have made great organizers, but GCI kept putting them off for months.  Eventually, most of them left to work for other groups, including ACORN, ACT, and the coordinated campaign.  It's pretty demoralizing to have some of your best folks leave the company due 2 months of delay on decisions about whether they will get to go to a swing state.

Of the salaried staff (DNC and LNVB), some huge number (95%?) left after the election.  I understand that out there were some PIRG leave of absense people, and that it was the end of a campaign, but still, that isn't exactly the sign of a satisfied group of workers.

I don't know how many 2004 staffers have returned to GCI, but the number is not high.  I think I could probably count them on two hands.  I'm sure that a few experienced PIRG folks were ok with the situation, but that doesn't make it right.

by dansomone 2006-09-12 12:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Are you kidding me?

Right but you implied that...who else would be demoralizing progressives?

Why would even say that? What is evidence that we are demoralizing any progressive activists other then GCI staff in the Boston HQ?

If anything I hope we are preventing people from joining GCI until they make working conditions better.

by MartinSTL 2006-09-12 01:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Are you kidding me?

Again I never said that you, Greg, or anyone else on these blogs are right wing operatives. Just give it up man.

I agree with Jasmine that I question some people's motives.

BTW- You decided that she was talking about right wing operatives.

by thegatekeeper 2006-09-12 04:05PM | 0 recs
Hmmm

I think it's fun that so many of the people accusing Greg and Martin and the rest of trying to "demoralize progressives" are newly registered and are only commenting on GCI diaries.  

by kilb 2006-09-12 10:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Hmmm

It must be a coincidence!

by Alex Urevick 2006-09-12 12:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Hmmm

I have been a Dean/DFA MoveOn, Kerry supporter and have low User ID on MyDD and DailyKos and active commenter.

I think working for GCI is a commitment and a sacrifice not for a job or career.  So I dont appreciate the weekly post that demoralizes activists.

by jasmine 2006-09-12 01:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Hmmm

I disagree, but my comment was not directed at you.  Possibly we could agree that legitimate disagreements are possible and that nobody has ulterior motives here?

by kilb 2006-09-12 02:21PM | 0 recs
I'll engage again, against my better judgement

Three things to add to this thread.

1) I think all of the name calling and attacking of each other is a waste of time. I personally have felt as though responses to my commentary has been insulting in undertone. Just something to note - it doesn't help the conversation.

2) I might be the only one here who actually interacts with people still involved in GCI and MoveOn, so I just find a lot of this talk to be rather uninformed and silly. Just my impression to talking w/ my former co-workers who are quite happy there.

3) They're not scammers. They're incredibly up-front about what people are getting into and what they aim to acheive. People who do the work opt- in. I know from hiring in a canvass office that people really only hear what they want to hear in the interviews, and they brush the rest off to romanticize the job. When I reflect on my hiring process, I know that I was told the gritty details - but I chose to ignore them. I would put money on the fact that a lot of you did too.

And then to respond to some of Greg's earlier criticisms of me. Yeah, I can see how you might have thought I was "ok with being lied to" - really, I just don't think I was mislead at all. Fundraising, help the DNC, beat bush. It could have been more clear, but I think you said in your earlier post that they claim to be doing a better job about that. The money might not have helped, but I do believe that canvassing, fundraising, helps to invest people in the party, the politics, and the candidate - that's invaluable.

I still doubt that you've talked to a good representation of people from the campaign, that's fine. I wonder what kind of control group you have? Maybe you should talk to Kerry campaign alums and see how they feel about what happened? That's not even really a control, because those folks were basically volunteers. But do you see where I am going here? Why are they (GCI) so different from other campaigns, and in this GOTV context, are they really different from candidate work - and does their productivity warrant the trade-off?

I don't think they strangled themselves. They set out to do what they wanted to do.

You never responded to the fact that I think GCI is a great success in launching people forward into organizing and working in politics. I'm sure you disagree, but I really think they have.

by elizabethBOS 2006-09-12 03:01PM | 0 recs
Re: I'll engage again, against my better judgement

Well, I'm still in touch with people, and probably, other then Lockse, had the largest "overview" of anyone posting here, based purely on the fact that I worked as a canvass director, in recruitment, and in finance.

I agree that we do need more data, which is one of the reasons I'm really looking forward to the book Greg plugs occasionally.  I also agree that the tone of this conversation could be improved a great deal.  

But besides all that, I think the key indictment of the GCI model is that they don't retain staff at any reasonable rate.  When no one out of the entire boston door office returns for the next summer after the 04 campaign, that is a problem.  I think the "model" is a model that has been about eating the seed corn for the past 30 years, and burning out the people most committed to the cause.  I think that can change, which is why I've stuck around through this conversation.

by dansomone 2006-09-12 04:03PM | 0 recs

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