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.
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.
In 1995, Wilson worked for the Teamsters union and helped develop the union’s 1997 contract strategy for national negotiations for 185,000 members at 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 an 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.
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.
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 and an Our Revolution delegate to the Massachusetts Democratic Convention in June 2017. Today he is helping to build Our Revolution (the Sanders’ campaign successor organization) at the state and local level in Massachusetts, while once again organizing Labor for Bernie to unite unions and other worker organizations to continue the political revolution.
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.
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. He recently joined the advisory board of the Boston Independent Drivers Guild.
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.