Eric Mann was a field secretary for Congress of Racial Equality, a national officer of Students for a Democratic Society, and for ten years an assembly line worker at Ford and GM as well as a shop floor leader with the United Auto Workers. He has lead successful campaigns—with CORE to integrate the hiring practices of the Trailways Bus Company and with the Labor/Community Coalition to Keep GM Van Nuys Open and UAW Local 645 to force GM to keep its Van Nuys plant open for a decade and keep 5,000 union, Black, Latino, and women’s jobs. He has worked, with the Strategy Center’s Watchdog Environmental organization, with undocumented Latino immigrant residents of Wilmington, California to challenge the toxic emission of Texaco and the oil refineries. He has been the lead organizer for the Bus Riders Union. In 1994, along with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, he wrote the case for a landmark civil rights suit challenging “transit racism” in Los Angeles under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Strategy Center and LDF prevailed and that led to a ten year Consent Decree with the Los Angeles MTA in which he was the head of the Joint Working Group that negotiated with the MTA over conditions. Through that work the BRU “Billions for Buses” campaign got rid of 2,000 diesel buses, got the MTA to replace them with 2,500 new compressed natural gas buses, reduced fares, and won $2.7 Billion for 500,000 LA bus riders, 50% of whom are Latino, 20% of whom are Black, 60% of whom are women, with family incomes under $20,000 a year. He has been an NGO delegate to the World Conference Against Racism in Durban in 2001 and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002—where he was elected as an NGO delegate to address the UN governments to challenge the theory of “partnerships” and “voluntary compliance.” Since 1989, he has been the Director of the Labor/Community Strategy Center in Los Angeles.
He wrote the scripts and helped produce two films on social movements: Tiger by the Tail, about the GM Van Nuys Struggle, with director, editor, and initiator, Michal Goldman and Voices from the Frontlines, about the organizing projects in Wilmington and Ecuador, with filmmakers Mark Dworkin and Melissa Young. He is the author of seven books on organizing strategy. His most recent books are The 7 Components of Transformative Organizing Theory and Playbook for Progressives: 16 Qualities of the Successful Organizer. He has written more than 250 published articles for the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Worldwatch Magazine, the Black Commentator, Socialist Register, AhoraNow, TruthOut, and many others.