Organizing from the bottom up

December 17, 2009

Annie Levin pays tribute to an activist dedicated to the movement from below.

LABOR AND global justice activist Tim Costello passed away on December 4 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Tim was a founding member of many activist organizations during his lifetime--among them the Massachusetts chapter of Jobs with Justice, and most recently, a project called Global Labor Strategies.

When I lived in Boston in the 1990s, Tim was a fixture in the local labor movement. Whether we were organizing a solidarity committee, holding a forum to discuss the state of our movement or a walking a picket line, you knew Tim would be there. When it came to forums about the global justice movement, Tim enriched our discussion with his knowledge of the issues, and ideas for the future.

Tim was the author of numerous books and articles, including Globalization From Below: The Power of Solidarity, coauthored with Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith, and Global Village or Global Pillage: Economic Reconstruction from the Bottom Up, coauthored with Brecher.

Tim was born and raised in Boston. He worked as a fuel oil delivery driver and became active in the Teamsters Union and the union reform movement. In 1973, he met labor historian Jeremy Brecher, and became his collaborator for the next 35 years. They wrote a book together that year, called Common Sense for Hard Times, about the impact of the recession on young workers.

In an article they wrote for International Socialist Review, called "Debtors of the world, unite!" (ISR 19, August-September 2001, written at the height of the global justice movement, and just before September 11), Tim, Brecher and Smith wrote:

But just as corporate and political elites reached across national borders to further their agendas, people at the grassroots have begun connecting their struggles around the world, to impose their needs and interests on the global economy. Globalization from above is generating a worldwide movement of resistance..."globalization from below."

Tim dedicated his life to that movement of globalization from below.

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