Category Archives: Workforce

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CUNY Days at DC37: Worker Education at the Murphy Institute’s New College Access Initiative

By Becky Firesheets

When adults are interested in returning to school, they’re often faced with multiple challenges — jobs, children, bills, aging parents — yet are expected to navigate this process alone. In contrast, high school students, who typically experience fewer barriers than adult learners, receive built-in guidance from trained counselors present in their schools. Worker Education at the Murphy Institute strives to change this reality by bringing college access services directly to adults within their communities.

Recently launched with DC37, Worker Education’s new initiative “CUNY Days” offers free, thirty-minute, one-on-one sessions with experienced pre-admission advisors held at the union’s headquarters. Our advisors begin each session by discussing participants’ career goals and recommending various academic pathways at the School of Labor and Urban Studies and/or greater CUNY that could lead toward achieving this goal. Depending on the individual’s needs, sessions might also include application assistance, exploration of various industries and local labor market data, guidance on accessing union tuition benefits and financial aid, and more. Continue reading CUNY Days at DC37: Worker Education at the Murphy Institute’s New College Access Initiative

On Equity in Our Workforce

By Rebecca Lurie

As I read the latest paper by Steve Dawson on workforce, once again I am grateful for the principles and practices he describes so well. (And succinctly! So if you have time to read a one-pager, do it! And don’t bother to read my post!)

Dawson’s paper, “Class Dismissed Defining Equity in our Workforce Field” suggests we look deeper into meaningful work and consider, when we train and prepare for jobs, that we also train and prepare for the broader world of work. Exposing trainees to organizing, policy, advocacy and cooperative business skills all as means to improve lives even when job placement options are not great.

The full series can be found here. I highly recommend it for those aiming to do more than good work through workforce development, but for those who want to use the opportunity when engaged in workforce training to help raise the bar, and advocate for better jobs and better work in a world that demands us to make ready ourselves, our young, our disenfranchised, for work that will improve conditions through a wide range of strategies and approaches.

Workforce Development

The Worker Education and Workforce Development (WEWD) Unit at Murphy serves as a gateway to higher education and all CUNY Colleges for adult learners.

WEWD equips workers with skills and training and provides career pathway programs. It matches the educational needs of workers and union members to academic programs by developing industry-related curricula and providing supportive services to students of the Institute and other units of CUNY.  WEWD is positioned to develop new programs that expand our portfolio to meet the changing needs of the workforce in both private industry and city and state governments. Learn more here.

Labor History: A Key to Making Bad Jobs Better

By Rebecca Lurie

This summer, the Pinkerton Foundation released a new paper called “Make Bad Jobs Better: Forging a “Better Jobs” Strategy,” by Steven L. Dawson. Dawson argues that the tightening labor market and improving economy offer new opportunities for organizers, educators and workers to bargain harder and “make bad jobs better.” Here, Rebecca Lurie, Program Director for the Community and Worker Ownership Project at the Murphy Institute, responds:

This Pinkerton Paper sings my song! Words like dignity, agency, organizing, self-worth, stability, respect are music to my ears. When workforce development can build pathways to this we do much more than create one job placement at a time. We contribute to the work of building a more just society, rooted in self-actualization and empowerment. Continue reading Labor History: A Key to Making Bad Jobs Better

In Search of a Model: Workforce Development in Corporate America

How have decades of union busting, “right-to-work” and the decline of organized labor affected workforce development? According to Corporate America beat back its best job trainers, and now it’s paying a price, a post on the Washington Post’s Wonkblog by Lydia DePillis, they’ve led to a decline in overall job preparedness — alongside an ever-growing need for an educated workforce.  DePillis writes:

Although unions have historically constructed high-quality educational pipelines to well-paying jobs in cooperation with employers, labor has lost ground over the years. In the absence of union training programs, businesses in vast sectors of the economy are scrambling to meet their workforce needs through other means, like piecemeal job training programs and partnerships with community colleges, with few solutions that have really broad reach.

Over the years, [costs have] shifted to workers and the public education system. Companies in general have been spending less on training, as jobs have grown more transitory. Companies don’t see the point in investing in someone who’ll only stick around for a few years, if that, particularly when economic prospects are uncertain. So, at a time when manufacturing requires more sophisticated knowledge, the companies have found themselves without a base of trained workers, leading to complaints about a “skills gap.”

For the full article, visit the Washington Post.

 

Photo by Bill Jacobus via flickr (CC-BY).

Challenging Racism at Work

This post was originally published in the Spring 2015 issue of New Labor Forum

By Sarah Jaffe

Cameron McLay became chief of police in Pittsburgh in September 2014, tasked by new mayor Bill Peduto with cleaning up the department, after its former chief wound up in federal prison for corruption. This put him in charge at a time when the Black Lives Matter protests erupted across the country, calling for an end to police brutality, racial profiling, and the deaths of unarmed black people at the hands of police officers. When the chief met some of those activists, with the group What’s Up?! Pittsburgh, at community festivities, he posed, in uniform, for an Instagram photo with one of their signs. It read: “I resolve to challenge racism @ work. #EndWhiteSilence.” The photo looked to many like a rare example of a police officer supporting the message of the protesters — the mayor told reporters that he immediately reposted the picture to his own Facebook page.

Continue reading Challenging Racism at Work