Rand Wilson


Rand Wilson
5 min readMar 2, 2018

Rand Wilson has worked as a union organizer and labor communicator since the early 1980s. He started in the labor movement as a member of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union (OCAW) Local 8–366 where he led several organizing drives, was chief steward, and served on his local union’s executive board.

Mass Jobs with Justice director Rand Wilson at Boston health care rally (around 1994)

For most of the 1980s, Wilson worked as an organizer for the Communications Workers of America (CWA). In 1989 he helped coordinate solidarity efforts in Massachusetts during a successful three-month strike by 60,000 telephone workers against health care benefit cost-shifting. The strike victory helped spur the formation of Massachusetts Jobs with Justice. As the founding director in the early 1990s, Wilson spearheaded efforts in Massachusetts to support legislation for universal health care and against so-called “free” trade deals like NAFTA and the World Trade Organization.

With support from CWA and UE, Wilson and other workers started the High Tech Workers’ Network in 1983. The network provided support for workers in not-yet-union computer and electronics manufacturing shops in the greater Boston area to meet up, compare conditions and discuss organizing strategies.

News clip from the CWA News, Nov. 1984

To complement the workers’ organizing, Wilson helped spearhead the High Tech Research Group which brought together “labor friendly” academics interested in doing research to support workers in the high tech industry in Massachusetts. The group published three reports that were valuable to our organizing efforts: “Massachusetts High Tech: The Promise and the Reality,” (April 1984); “High Tech Toxics: Communities at Risk,” (October1984); and “Whatever Happened to Job Security? The 1985 Slowdown in the Massachusetts High Tech Industry” (1986).

The High Tech Research Group

In 1991, Wilson and Ted Smith from the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition organized the Campaign for Responsible Technology (CRT), seeking to shape the research agenda of a major government subsidized high tech industrial policy initiative, SEMATECH. This national chip industry research consortium was funded with $100 million federal tax dollars matched by the same amount from the private sector.

With our respective labor and environmental experience in the electronics industry, CRT demanded that SEMATECH’s research should also benefit the industry’s workers, the host communities and the environment.

CRT leaders gathered outside SEMATECH in Austin Texas in 1992

SEMATECH vigorously resisted escalating requests to devote resources to our agenda of making cleaner and safer chips. Not to be dissuaded, we eventually intervened in SEMATECH’s federal appropriation and Congress earmarked $10 million for “environmentally safe manufacturing methods” research at SEMATECH. That led to many productive meetings with industry researchers where we shared our concerns and did our best to influence the semiconductor industry’s research objectives.

Celebrating the 1997 UPS strike victory with Maria Maldonado, David Levine, Joanie Parker and Greg LeRoy.

In 1995, Wilson worked for the Teamsters union and helped develop the union’s 1997 contract campaign strategy for national negotiations with United Parcel Service. Wilson coordinated communications for a year-long campaign to build membership unity and get members involved in actions to support winning a good contract. When national contract talks broke down, Wilson was chief spokesperson during the union’s historic 15-day strike. The Teamsters won a contract that created 10,000 new full-time jobs, limited subcontracting, and increased funding in Teamster pension plans.

St. Louis rally at the headquarters of Edward Jones protesting the financial services company’s support for privatizing Social Security

In 2005, Wilson worked for the AFL-CIO’s Office of Investment on a campaign to oppose the Bush Administration’s plan to privatize Social Security. Wilson organized actions across the country exposing the conflict of interest created by the financial services industry’s support for privatizing Social Security while it managed trillions of dollars in worker’s retirement assets. From 2007 through 2011, Wilson worked on a joint CWA and IBEW union initiative with the AFL-CIO to help Verizon and other telecom workers build on-the-job unity.

Active in electoral politics, Wilson ran for state Auditor in a campaign to win cross-endorsement (or fusion) voting reform and establish a Working Families Party affiliate in Massachusetts.

Wilson at 2017 Fair Trade rally

Inspired by Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 primary campaign, Wilson volunteered as national coordinator for Labor for Bernie, a network of six national unions, over 100 local unions and nearly 50,000 union activists. He was elected a Massachusetts “Sanders delegate” to the Democratic National Convention in July 2016. He was elected as a delegate to the Massachusetts Democratic Conventions in 2017, 2019, 2021, 2022 and 2023.

Wilson is active in Our Revolution (the Sanders’ campaign successor organization) state level in Massachusetts, while continuing to organize for the political revolution.

SEIU Local 888 leaders and staff at rally to support Northeaster University’s faculty

In May, 2021 Wilson wrapped up nine and a half years as an organizer (three as chief of staff) for Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 888 in Boston, MA.

Since then, he has worked as a consultant to Teamsters for a Democratic Union on the 2023 UPS contract campaign and as an organizer for CHIPS Communities United.

Wilson has written and lectured widely about contract campaigns, strikes, health care reform, and strategies to build workers’ political power. He is board chair for the ICA Group and the Fund for Jobs Worth Owning; a trustee of the Center for the Study of Public Policy, a trustee for the Somerville Job Creation and Retention Trust, an elected member of the Ward Six Somerville Democratic Committee and convener of a community-labor coalition: Somerville Stands Together.

Wilson’s documents, papers, and memorabilia from his work in the labor movement are archived at the Du Bois Library’s Robert S. Cox Special Collections & University Archives Research Center at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA.



Rand Wilson

Rand Wilson works as a union organizer and labor educator. He is a political activist in Somerville, MA.