USAction, which describes itself as “the nation’s largest progressive activist organization,” was created in 1999 as the resurrected form of Citizen Action by Heather Booth, who co-founded Citizen Action in 1979 and the Midwest Academy in 1973. Ms. Booth currently serves as USAction’s Vice President.
In 2006, USAction claimed 34 statewide, regional and national organizations as affiliates. One of these is the Progressive Action Network (PAN), a group largely devoted to telephone fundraising. Another is the aforementioned Midwest Academy, a training organization that teaches radical activists the tactics of direct action, targeting, confrontation, and intimidation. Also listed as affiliates are three left-leaning labor unions: AFSCME, the Communication Workers of America, and the Service Employees International Union. Several members of USAction’s Board are longtime radical activists with links to these unions or to the AFL-CIO.
One of the chief concerns of USAction is the health hazard of asbestos. This has been the single most lucrative target for lawsuits in recent years, generating billions of dollars for trial attorneys. USAction actively opposes all efforts at asbestos tort reform that might limit trial lawyer income from asbestos cases.
USAction lists its additional priorities as: “fighting the right wing agenda”; “building grassroots political power”; winning “social, racial and economic justice for all”; “tak[ing] our democracy back from the corporate elite and the well-heeled special interests that dominate the political process today”; supporting a system of taxpayer-funded socialized medicine; reversing “reckless tax cuts for millionaires and corporations” which shield the “wealthy” from paying their “fair share”; advocating for “pro-consumer and environmental regulation of corporate abuse”; “strengthening progressive voices on local, state and national issues”; and working to “register, educate and get out the vote … [to] help progressives get elected at all levels of government.”
USAction is a sponsoring organization of the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride Coalition, which seeks to secure amnesty and ever-expanding rights and protections for illegal immigrants, as well as policy reforms that diminish or eliminate restrictions on immigration.
The President of USAction is longtime radical activist William McNary, who has written for and supported the official newspaper of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), the People’s Weekly World.
In April 2015, activists from the Black Lives Matter movement held a “Populism 2015” assembly at a Washington, DC hotel. The event was sponsored by USAction, the Campaign for America’s Future, National People’s Action, and the Alliance for a Just Society.