All posts by Tamara Shapiro

There is a Future for Low-Income Housing in NYC – If We Work for It!

At this morning’s breakfast forum: “Is There a Future for Low-Income Housing in New York City?”, panelists and audience members had a wide-ranging and animated discussion about constraints and opportunities for achieving the goals of Housing New York: A Five-Borough, Ten-Year Plan. HPD’s Brent Meltzer, a housing preservation specialist and Assistant Commissioner for Community Partnerships, presented the Mayor’s Plan and fielded questions on density, preserving affordability, and the challenges of gentrification. Ismene Speliotis, Carlton Brown, and Lavon Chambers contributed perspectives from advocacy, affordable housing development, and labor. Some of the many take-aways:

  • We need better, more aggressive ways to capture land value to increase rates of affordability.
  • We need airtight ways to bind our housing goals and targets to our workforce development goals and sanction unscrupulous developers and contractors.
  • Housing should not be built in isolation—community planning is needed to comprehensively address neighborhood needs—community organizing is the backbone of community planning.
  • Change in urban areas is inevitable; the issue is how to manage change and eliminate displacement.
  • The non-profit housing sector is underutilized and the city needs to stop over-relying on developer-contractors.
  • Union pension funds should be freed up to invest in housing developments that their members can afford to live in.
  • We need a mix of housing typologies not currently allowed by zoning—single-member households make up over a third of the city’s households but restrictions on density prevent construction of small units. The result: single-member households double, triple, and quadruple up—competing with families for multi-bedroom units.

See two of the presentations from the forum here:

Lavon Chambers, Laborers Union5

Ismene Speliotis, Mutual Housing Association

FUREE Community Organizer (Part Time Position)

Application Deadline: February 6th, 2015

FUREE is looking for an experienced community organizer with a solid background in organizing in low-income and working class communities of color and a demonstrated capacity to build grassroots leadership. Our campaigns include organizing against gentrification and for community-led accountable development, building the power of public housing residents to win rights and respect, and civic engagement in low-income and working class communities of color.

FUREE is a multi-racial, women-led membership organization in Brooklyn, New York. FUREE is organizing to build a strong base of low-income women of color to build power to change the system so that all peoples’ work is valued and everyone has the right and means to rise out of poverty.  Our guiding principle is that the people who are directly impacted by the policies we are seeking to change should lead the organization.


1) Base Building:  The Organizer will recruit members utilizing various methods including one to one meetings, public outreach, etc; maintain recruitment and contact records assess potential members and meet turn out goals to meetings, actions and other organizational activities.

2) Leadership Development: FUREE believes that those who are directly impacted by public policy and practices should lead the organization. The Organizer will identify potential and emerging leaders from our membership, create individual leadership development plans with current and emerging leaders that will build their political framework and community organizing skills including participation in political education. The Organizer will encourage participation and building organizational ownership amongst members.

3) Campaign Development:  Build strong, active campaign committees to scale and scope including working with members to lead community mobilization efforts, campaign strategy and research and co-facilitating quarterly power-mapping with leaders to evaluate campaign progress. The Organizer will also be responsible for organizing media work on the campaign including training members on framing, messaging and obtaining media coverage.

Other tasks: Collaborate with other staff and members on organizational activities, events, and meetings; recruiting campaign members to contribute to organizational communications; engage in grassroots fundraising activities; preparing periodic reports of activities and utilizing political, professional and personal development opportunities provided by FUREE.


  • 2 or more years of strong community and/or labor organizing experience, preferably with low-income communities and a demonstrated capacity to effectively carry out the above responsibilities
  • Two or more years of strong experience of leadership development and political education training facilitation
  • A well developed personal framework/theory of social change and a strong commitment to racial and economic justice as well as to FUREE’s mission
  • Demonstrated knowledge of Brooklyn or New York City’s political, social and economic climate
  • Demonstrated knowledge of accountable development organizing frameworks
  • Ability to communicate, motivate and listen to people from all walks of life
  • Ability to work independently, as part of team and in coalitions
  • Experience with grassroots fundraising
  • Strong writing skills including messaging and framing for various audiences
  • Ability to work evenings/weekends as necessary
  • Computer literate particularly Microsoft Office and data basing application
  • Bilingual English/Spanish preferred

Compensation: This is a part time position with a competitive salary. There are great opportunities for growth, development and leadership.

How to Apply: Send resume, cover letter, salary history and one personal and three professional references to or mail to 388 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217. Please type “Organizer Search” in the subject heading.   In your cover letter, specify why you are interested in this particular job with FUREE.

Women of color, immigrants, differently-abled, and people of color from low-income Brooklyn neighborhoods or other NYC communities are strongly encouraged to apply.
We will respond ONLY to eligible applicants.  Please do not call to inquire about application status.
Deadline to apply: February 6th, 2015

Workforce Development Specialist at LAANE in the Jobs to Move American team

Jobs to Move America seeks a full-time Workforce Development Specialist. We are hiring a talented and motivated person to assist in developing and implementing workforce development program focusing on transportation manufacturing jobs. We are seeking a qualified professional who will be able to work well with unions, community organizations, companies and government agencies. The specialist will develop relationships with organizations in the workforce development field, develop training programs, communicate with and motivate existing and potential workers, and coordinate public events as needed. Jobs to Move America is a national project to build better, cleaner public transit systems, to create and retain good manufacturing jobs, and to generate opportunities for unemployed Americans. (Go to for more information.)


  • Coalition-building: Identify, develop and maintain workforce development partnerships in JMA key geographic regions. Assist JMA and coalition partners with developing strategies to improve workforce development resources and programs for transportation manufacturing jobs.
  • Project development: Establish and maintain effective working relationships with companies, unions, community colleges, workforce training groups, and community groups to identify training needs and develop training programs in key regions (Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York)
  • Assist in identifying resources and funding opportunities within governmental and philanthropic organizations and develop grant applications to support the planning and implementation of workforce development programs including apprenticeship programs in the transportation manufacturing sector. Gather, track and assess data on JMA workforce development programs and performance as needed.
  • Organize, plan, and execute workforce development events as necessary for various assigned projects. Perform other duties as assigned.


  • Minimum 1-2 year experience with workforce development and/or apprenticeship programs.
  • Commitment to excellence and the mission and goals of Jobs to Move America.
  • Excellent communication skills and ability to work well with others.
  • Skilled at coordinating a variety of projects simultaneously.
  • Ability to work independently and in a team.
  • Have a valid drivers’ license and a reliable, insured transportation.
  • Degree from university or college is preferred.
  • Bilingual skills or fluency in second language a plus.
  • Bachelor’s degree preferred, but relevant work experience will be considered.

Salary commensurate with experience, with benefits provided. Position is based in Los Angeles, and will report to JMA Senior National Organizer.

1.      E-mail a single PDF document that includes a cover letter and résumé to
2.      In the subject line of your email, write “Workforce Development position”.

We are an affirmative action employer and encourage applications from all qualified candidates regardless of race, ethnicity, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, or disability. We work to ensure fair treatment of applicants and employees and actively enforce zero tolerance policies against discrimination and sexual harassment. Women and people of color are strongly encouraged to apply.

Springfield No One Leaves is hiring two community organizers for their Bank Tenant Association campaign and a new Tenant Organizing Project!

Springfield No One Leaves is a grassroots member-led organization in Springfield, MA. We organize residents most directly impacted by the housing crisis and economic inequality to build collective power, defend against displacement and win long-term community ownership & control over land and housing. Through direct action campaigns, building community solidarity, leadership development & political education we empower and train residents to be leaders & organizers for a broad social justice movement.

Applicants should be self-motivated; have a strong work ethic; hold a passion for building power of low-income and working class communities and communities of color; and is committed to organizing to address root causes of inequality and eradicating system of oppression. SNOL embraces a collective organizing model to achieve our campaign goals. Applicants should have a strong ability to work as a team.

Both positions are 30/hour per week organizing positions.
To View Job Descriptions Please see:

What does it mean for public education, CUNY, and the city when top immigrant and minority students can’t get into our best schools?  

Editor’s Note (4.13.15): The original article from the Atlantic has been significantly revised due to framing and factual errors regarding acceptance and enrollment trends. You can read the latest response from Jay Hershenson, Senior Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Secretary of the Board of Trustees at CUNY, here.

In “When Being a Valedictorian Isn’t Enough,” LynNell Hancock and Meredith Kolodner explore the ramifications of the raising of admission standards at the top-five CUNY colleges – Baruch, Hunter, Brooklyn, Queens, and City.  CUNY’s top schools increasingly admit a disproportionate number of white and Asian freshmen, while admitting fewer students from New York City’s high schools.  This drive to increase the prestige of the top-five schools has left New York’s black and Latino high school students crowding into two-year community colleges with much lower chances of ever successful completing a Bachelor’s degree.  Hancock and Kolodner examine the impact on the changes on New York City’s students, high schools, and on the community at large.  Who is getting left behind by a system that less-and-less reflects the demographic make-up of New York’s public schools…and is there a way out?

You can find a response to this article from CUNY here.

Introducing Spring 2015 NY Union Semester Students

As we start off the new year, we welcome a new Union Semester class!  Before we all meet in person next week, we wanted to share a sneak preview! Introducing the Spring 2015 class….

For information on joining the class of fall 2015, find us at


Rebekah Williams, NY
Rebekah Williams is  nineteen years old, and a junior at Baruch College. She is from the beautiful Caribbean island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines located in the Lesser Antilles region of the Caribbean. She  currently resides in Queens. She enjoys doing many things such as, singing, drawing, playing one of several instruments, and making her own clothes; but most of all she loves to help others.  She decided to join the Union Semester program to combine her passion for learning and helping others. Her goals for this program are to gain a better understanding of how labour organizations function and the role they play in helping the millions of workers in New York City.  She also hopes to assist the organization and those affected by the work of the organization through her diligent and goal oriented work ethic.

Rebekah is interning at the 1199 SEIU Training and Upgrading Fund.


Ian Conde, CA
Ian Conde was born and raised in the Bay Area.  He is a recent Alumni of San Francisco State University. He is also a member of the League of Filipino Students, a member organization of BAYAN-USA.  His main motivation for joining CUNY Union Semester is to learn more about the struggle of workers locally in this country and the opportunity to be able to contribute to the overall workers movement internationally. 

Ian is interning at the Professional Staff Congress-CUNY, AFT 2334.


Jay Dean, OH
Originally from the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio Jay Dean has lived many places around the country and briefly overseas. He received a Bachelors in Science from Montana State University in Secondary Education Social Studies and a Masters in Science from Portland State University in Sociology, where he specialized in privatization and labor.   He is interested in the issue of income inequality and believes working with a labor union represents the “front lines” in the fight to gain better opportunity and access to wealth for the working class.  He views the Union Semester Program as opening a door to the labor movement in that it will give him the skills he needs to be an effective labor advocate.

Jay is interning at the Center for Popular Democracy.


Justin Hamano, PA
Originally from Philadelphia, Justin has lived in New York for the past 8 years. He graduated from NYU with a degree in English in 2009 and has been working ever since. Most recently, he worked for the New York State Assembly as a constituent liaison. Prior to that he was Program Associate for the Retail Action Project, a labor non-profit. He is a strong believer in labor’s power to create social and economic justice and looking forward to the semester!

Justin is interning at the 1199 SEIU Research Department.


Dale Morgan,  MA
Dale is originally from southeast Massachusetts. Currently he is a student at The New School where he is focusing on political theory and praxis. Union Semester seems to be a logical and necessary step in continuing this study.

Dale is interning at the United Federation of Teachers, PROSE project.


Samantha Francois, NY
Samantha is originally from Brooklyn, New York and is a recent graduate from the Psychology program at SUNY New Paltz. By majoring in Psychobiology and minoring in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, she combined her interests in social justice and science, more specifically concerning the role of both in healthcare. She became interested in the Union Semester Program to gain more knowledge and experience concerning the labor history, as well as its intersectionality to other areas of study and life.  

Samantha is interning at Build Up NYC.


Kieran Joseph, AZ
Kieran Joseph was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. He studies Economics and Public Policy at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. He decided to attend the Union Semester program to build a better understanding of the conditions and structures that the labor movement fights against, and to develop the skills to become a leader in fighting for something better.

Kieran is interning at the New York Central Labor Council.

Hanalei Ramos taken by AnnaMarie Vu

Hanalei Ramos, NJ
Hanalei is native of Jersey City, NJ and completed her B.A. in Labor and Industrial Relations from Penn State University. As a community organizer, was drawn to  Union Semester to learn the best practices that can be applied to community organizing models and campaigns. This spring, she hopes to gain a better understanding of the New York City labor landscape, improve as an organizer, and explore the intersection between organized labor and immigrant workers.

Hanalei is interning at the New York Communities for Change Communications Department. 


Eduardo Alpizar, FL
Eduardo Alpizar is from Tallahassee Florida by way of Miami. He is a graduate of Florida State University with a B.S. in Political Science.  He decided to attend the Union Semester in order to be reintroduced to the labor and continue a life of activism, advocacy, and solidarity.

Eddy is interning at the Committee of Interns and Residents, SEIU.


Dzindzi Asamoah-Wade, NY
Dzindzi Asamoah-Wade grew up Rochester, New York. She moved to New York City to attend City College where she is an International Studies Major with a concentration in Culture and Communication, Psychology minor and Black Studies minor. She decided to join NY Union Semester to take what she has learned during her undergraduate career about the cultural, political and economic factors applicable to the history of labor, and the Labor Movement and be able to apply it in an enriching, hands on setting.

Dzindzi is interning at the Transport Workers Union Local 100 Political Action department.


Matthew Hillyer, IL
Matthew Hillyer first organized a student walkout as a high school student in solidarity with the teacher’s union strike over contract negotiations in Chicago, IL.  After serving in the United States Armed Forces he enrolled at the University of Illinois and completed a degree in English Education, taught college level reading and writing for two years at the high school from which he graduated and embarked on a national performing arts tour, that fused the American Entrepreneurial spirit with radical-self-reliance.  This experience eventually lead him to the real watershed moment of his life, the Occupy movement, and disaster relief efforts following Hurricane Sandy.  He is a sitting member on the workplace justice committee for the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York, and shop steward for the food service workers union Unite Here Local 100 AFL-CIO at the Barclays Center, in Brooklyn.  His motivation for applying to the CUNY Union Semester program is the culmination of working through the trials and errors of social justice activism, and as a volunteer-organizer in grassroots movements and campaigns.  

Matthew is interning at the NYC District Council of Carpenters, Communication department.


Alina Shen, NY
Alina Shen is from New York City, and spent most her life between the privileged and competitive specialized high school test-prep culture and Asian American immigrant enclaves. She goes to school at City College under Macaulay Honors College studying Critical Social Change under the CUNY BA program. She is joining Union Semester to learn more about immigrant labor history and coalition building between community organizations. She is also really excited about the active and practical application of labor studies in union work. 

Alina is interning at the Transport Workers Union Local 100 Education department.


Jada Boyd, FL
Jada is originally from Florida but has lived many places due to her mother being in the army. Here background is in Critical Social Theory and Environmental Justice. She chose the union semester program because labor is a central ideology that shapes our lives and she believes union semester will be a great opportunity to gain a better experience and understanding of the theory and praxis of labor organizing.

Jada is interning at the Communications Workers of America, District 1 and Local 1180.


Vanlyn Turner Ramsay, TN

Vanlyn is interning at the Fight for 15 campaign.


Not pictured:

Anu Biswas, who is interning at UNITE HERE Global Campaigns.

Jeremy Oziel, who is interning at New York Communities for Change, WASH NYC campaign.

Afrah Aden, who is interning at the Writers Guild of America East.