Ontario Nurses’ Association mourns Jane F. McAlevey, union organizer, educator, campaign strategist

July 10, 2024

The Ontario Nurses’ Association joins unions and workers the world over in mourning the death of Jane F. McAlevey.

McAlevey was a leader in the labour movement whose approach to organizing, captured in the Organizing for Power training she developed with the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, has trained more than 40,000 people from 1,800 organizations across the globe.

ONA members count themselves among that number. McAlevey’s Organizing for Power training has helped ONA members develop an understanding of who has power, and how they can seize their own power through building supermajorities of nurses and health-care professionals taking escalating collective action to target decision-makers and win their demands.

“Through her teachings, Jane has helped ONA members understand that organizing is about building relationships and organizing our coworkers,” says ONA President Erin Ariss, RN. “It’s about nurses and health-care professionals taking action in their own interest, and that of the patients, residents and clients who rely on us. Jane taught us that when we are united, we can make change through taking collective action to win on our demands.

“Through Jane, we learned to raise our expectations of what change is possible through the power of organizing.”

In recent years, many ONA members have embraced the core organizing methods they learned through McAlevey’s trainings to achieve numerous workplace victories. These successful campaigns have included wins for the registered nurses (RNs) and respiratory therapists of several Southlake Regional Health Centre intensive care units, RNs of Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance emergency departments, RNs of several operating rooms at The Ottawa Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital medical radiation therapists and Hastings Prince Edward County Public Health Unit nurses.

“ONA members learned we cannot win by only organizing those who are already involved,” says Ariss. “We need to reach every nurse and health-care professional and support them to make the decision to take action and win against governments and employers that have undervalued and disrespected us for too long. Jane’s spirit will live on with ONA as we continue to organize and step up our fight!”

Learn more about Jane’s life and enduring legacy in her New York Times obituary.