Category Archives: Student Stories

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Raising Cain (and Baby) with Jimmy Bosco

Jimmy Bosco is from the working class and he is damn proud of it.

“I always want to be a member of the working class,” he said. “That’s who I am.

I’m rank and file, and I like working and being with the rank and file. I don’t feel like I necessarily need to be a leader of a union or something like that. I can do that right on the floor. I like that I can bring my anarchist/libertarian/socialist views to work and share them with my fellow workers. I can tell them that the problem in our country isn’t Democratic or Republican politics—it’s our capitalist society. I give them reading suggestions and websites. During the pandemic, I read about Cuomo’s policies on nursing homes and told my co-workers that there would be trouble, and when it all came down the pike a year later, they were impressed.”

“I’m working in a restaurant right now, and I’ve been doing some agitating there. I’m not afraid of talking to workers in front of the owner. One hostess worked 40 hours one week and 36 the next but she didn’t get overtime for the 6 hours over 70.  The owner told her she had to work more than 80 hours to get overtime. That’s illegal in New York State. I told her to use the group chat to ask if anyone else was having issues with overtime. They all started chatting together about asking for overtime, getting promoted to waitress. They all wanted to help each other get what is their due. So I got them to ask for a raise collectively. When the restaurant reopened for dine-in, I told them that was the most leverage they would ever have. So they all signed a letter and went right up to the owner and gave it to him. And they got a dollar per hour raise.”

Continue reading Raising Cain (and Baby) with Jimmy Bosco

Yasmina Moore Goes For It!

Yasmina Moore is doing it for herself. But she’ll be helping a lot of other people in the process.

A candidate for the Master’s degree in Urban Studies, Yasmina says she enrolled at SLU “because I wanted to learn something. I love my job and I’m successful at it but I felt like my learning process had plateaued.” She laughed and added, “I was all gung-ho at first but then I suddenly remembered that I’m over 40, I have a full-time job and I’m a mom. So I had second thoughts. But finally I decided to just go for it.”

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Marie Francois Finds Her Voice at SLU

It took a while—and support from her DC37 union educational benefits—but Marie Lodescar Francois is ready to raise her voice … and perhaps a few roofs.

“I believe in lifelong learning. And DC37 offers lifelong learning and professional development, free of charge,” said Marie. “Education can be life-changing. DC37 knows that.”

A native of Haiti, Marie moved to the U.S. in 1983. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from City College of New York, Marie took a job with NYC Transit. “They had a special program called Transit Corps of Engineers,” Marie said.  They selected newly graduated college students with at least a B GPA. I guess Transit was looking for a new generation of high potential employees—“digital natives”—to bring new ideas to the organization.” Marie currently works in the Car Equipment Division involving New Technology Trains, which are all systematically controlled by software. Continue reading Marie Francois Finds Her Voice at SLU

Building Bridges with Cassy Klewicki

Cassandra Klewicki builds things. Train platforms. Bridges. And international labor organizations.

Cassy is a concrete carpenter with Local 290, and how she got there was quite a journey. “I’ve worked all over, in six states and 24 countries.” she said. “I worked at a coffee farm in Ecuador. I took seasonal jobs where you live in camps, and afterward I would just travel until I ran out of money. I did a lot of work in state and national parks, doing things like putting up and taking down barriers. That’s where I learned to use hand tools. I worked on hiking and ATV trails, I did some natural resource management—planting bushes and such—as well as doing environmental presentations for kids.”

What is she doing now? “When I moved back to New York I got into the union, with the help of a friend,” she said. “I’ve been with Local 290 for almost five years. It’s great because the carpenters’ union covers both the U.S. and Canada, so I can work in many different places and still pay into the same pension and benefits system. Most recently, especially since COVID, I’ve been working on-site at transportation venues like the LIRR.”

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Building Blocks for a Career in Public Service … Eriam Lopez’s Story

“I love architecture. That’s why I work in construction. I want to marry my love for architecture and my career in public service with advocacy. That’s why I am at SLU.”

Eriam Lopez works for the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development. She is also a mom with a 6-year-old and a 13-year-old that she is home-schooling. And she’s a lifelong learner with degrees from SUNY Farmingdale and CUNY’s John Jay College, and now she’s a candidate for the M.A. in Labor Studies from SLU. Oh … and she’s also a representative to SLU’s Student Union and Academic Governing Council, and graduate representative to the University Student Senate.

How does she manage to wear so many hats? “It’s been hectic,” she admitted, “The pandemic actually kind of simplified my life because I’m at home most of the time, and so is my partner. I don’t have to commute from Queens to my office or school and only travel to my construction sites as needed. I just jump on and off Zoom meetings most days,” Eriam laughed. Continue reading Building Blocks for a Career in Public Service … Eriam Lopez’s Story

TWO CUNY SLU Students Make City & State’s 2021 Labor 40 Under 40 List

City & State’s Labor 40 Under 40 highlights an impressive array of rising stars in labor and this year the list includes two CUNY SLU students: Olando Marlon Charles who is pursuing a certificate in Labor Relations and Bradley Kolb, a student in the master’s in labor studies program.

Olando works as the CHOW program coordinator at the Restaurant Opportunities Center – providing free, in-depth training for jobs like waiting tables, bartending or managing a restaurant. In addition to pursuing his certificate at SLU, he is also a student in the certificate program in theology at the New York Theological Seminary.

Bradley Kolb started working for United Service Workers Union Local 74 as an organizer and has been advocating for worker’s rights since. He received his bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies at SLU and is currently finishing up his master’s degree in labor studies.

We’re so incredibly proud to call these rising leaders our students. You can read more about each of these remarkable students (and many more amazing rising leaders) HERE.