Playing Bigger Than You Are: A Life in Organizing is Stewart Acuff’s story of his 30-year life in organizing. Be it organizing citizens for stop signs at a busy intersection in Memphis, successfully working to unionize the Atlanta Olympics, or guiding the nationwide organizing program of the AFL-CIO, we get a rare insight into the day-to-day struggles of an organizer.
Stewart Acuff has been an organizer for more than 30 years. He started union organizing in 1982 as SEIU organizing coordinator in Texas where he and his organized 12 nursing homes in two years. In 1985 Stewart went to Georgia where he founded Local 1985 and built the union up to 3000 members. In 1990 he became president of the Atlanta AFL-CIO where he organized and led the historic campaign to unionize the 1996 Olympics, labor’s biggest ever victory in the South. In 2000 he went to work for the national AFL-CIO. Stewart was organzing director from 2001 to 2008. Under his tenure the labor movement grew by more than it had in a generation. Stewart developed the policy and legislation which became the Employee Free Choice Act and led the campaign to pass it. Now Stewart is Chief of Staff of the Utility Workers Union of America and sits on the steering committee of the bluegreenalliance.