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April, 2011 News
Last updated: April 17, 2011
Berger-Marks announces new $10,000 Edna Award
For a young woman leader in the social justice movementThe Edna Award will honor a young woman leader in the social justice movement who has made an extraordinary contribution early in her career, and whose achievements indicate that her work will continue to significantly improve the lives of working women and men.
Apply by July 15!
The $10,000 award is named after Edna Berger, the foundation’s namesake and an early organizer at The Newspaper Guild-CWA. Women can apply for the award themselves or be nominated by others.
To spotlight the contributions of young women leaders"With the Edna Award, the Berger-Marks Foundation is expanding its commitment to young women," says Linda Foley, President of the Foundation. "We want to spotlight their important contributions to social justice. Women are organizing unions; women are leading campaigns for universal health care; and women are demonstrating to young people what social justice means."
"The Berger-Marks Foundation and the Edna Award honor the vision of a social justice movement where all workers have an opportunity to lead," noted AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Liz Shuler, who encouraged "all young women to apply for this award and become involved in shaping a just future."
The Edna Award follows up on the findings of the "Stepping Up, Stepping Back: Women Activists ‘Talk Union’ Across Generations" report the Foundation published last summer. It "demonstrates the Berger-Marks Foundation’s commitment to further engaging the next generation of social justice women leaders by creating a special honor just for them," explained Louise D. Walsh, Chairperson of the Foundation.
How to applyFill out the online application. It also calls for a resumé and two letters of recommendation. Nominees must be 35 years or younger on 12/31/2011. Applications will be accepted through July 15, and the award will be presented in the fall. Young women from labor unions, women’s groups, workers’ rights groups and other areas of social justice are encouraged to apply.
Click here to see the form and apply online.
|Young woman in the Vermont Workers' Center|
Support for young women helps groups & organizers win $122,193 in grants
Grants boost organizing & training around the worldThe 15 grants that Berger-Marks awarded this March support exciting projects for organizing, solidarity and skills building among women activists and workers, from Vermont to Georgia to California, and even reaching as far as Canada, Honduras and Indonesia. This year we gave priority to organizing projects that not only support women organizers and/or organizing women workers, but that also focus on younger women and help them get involved and take on leadership.
Record number of applications reaps record payoutWe got what we asked for — 33 applications from groups, institutions and individuals — and we awarded a grand total of $122,193 to 15 of them, a record number. Some involve organizing campaigns for janitorial, preschool, restaurant and plantation workers, while others offer valuable training and help get more women involved in the skilled trades, workers centers, union educational opportunities, and leadership.
Grants to groups in '11
Check Your Head:
Young people trained to teach thousands of others about unions
Thanks to financial support from Berger-Marks and several unions, Check Your Head is putting a section on the labour movement into all its Global Citizenship workshops. Our funding will help train two groups of 25 young people to lead the workshops, where some 4,500 young people will learn about workers' rights. Students will be high-school aged, with 18-25 year olds serving as facilitators and mentors. Since many are immigrants and at-risk youth from low-income communities, this funding is crucial to keeping the workshops accessible and affordable.
It will help connect young people with experienced union allies and mentors and to opportunities for activism in their workplaces and careers even before entering the workforce.
Vermont Workers' Center:
Solidarity schools help women organize for health care & unions, involve young women
The Workers' Center bolstered the union drive with People's Forums that attracted childcare providers, activists and over 130 candidates for the state legislature. Now it's mobilizing its grassroots networks into a new partnership to support the union campaign, called Working Parents United.
Both campaigns are run by working women, and the union drive will potentially bring thousands of young women into Vermont's small and largely male labor movement. That inspired Workers' Center members to launch a Women's Caucus, which in turn led the Center to create a PULL Women's Caucus to help women develop leadership skills and solidarity, and address issues unique to organizing as women.
Berger-Marks is helping the Workers' Center host a series of 3-day solidarity schools for Women's Caucus members and women organizers in towns across the state. They not only help young women gain and practice concrete organizing skills, but also are building a statewide supportive network women can turn to for solidarity, advice, mentoring, and energy.
Labor Education Service, University of Minnesota:
Building bridges across generations at the Union Women's Leadership Retreat
Since unions have tended to send older members and staff to the retreat, LES is using this Berger-Marks grant to recruit both facilitators and participants who are under age 35, including women of color. The grant will also fund professional Spanish/English interpretation to make the retreat accessible to young Latinas from the growing service sector.
As in the past, union women will learn skills for organizing, mobilizing and building union power and are encouraged to mentor new leaders.
Women's Institute for Leadership Development (WILD):
Getting young women primed for leadership, & organizing for domestic workers’ rightsWILD's goal is "a stronger and more representative labor movement " in and beyond Massachusetts "that is anti-racist, anti-homophobic and anti-sexist. " Their yearly Summer Institute, promotes women's organizing and provides women with support and opportunities to develop leadership. Seven out of ten of each Institute's delegates – ranging from janitors and home health aides to teachers, electricians, carpenters, etc. — are women of color, and interpretation is offered in Spanish, Portuguese and English. WILD also strives to build bridges between labor unions and labor and community activists.
The work Berger-Marks is backing this year also includes two new priorities -- organizing for domestic workers' rights and opening doors for young women.
WILD is celebrating its 25th annual Institute by focusing on young women as the future of the labor movement , and recruiting more of them to both get training and facilitate workshops; several young women in their 20s have helped shape the program. WILD also partnered with the Massachusetts Coalition for Domestic Workers as it organizes a fall conference to help domestic workers gain important rights.
In 2009 a Berger-Marks grant helped WILD with its successful June weekend Institute.
|On Mother’s Day ILRF has publicized the plight of working mothers around the world|
International Labor Rights Forum:
Research & organizing to empower women working in Honduran melon plantationsILRF's Rights for Working Women campaign collaborates with allies around the globe to promote working women's rights. In 2005, ILRF launched a project, jointly with independent labor monitors in Honduras, to research child labor in the melon export industry.
Now ILRF is partnering again with the labor monitors, along with the COSIBAH agricultural union federation and other groups, to champion the cause of the women who are employed, often on a precarious basis, at Honduran melon plantations. Those women are typically paid even less than the legal minimum and are confronted daily with sexual discrimination and abuses.
The Berger-Marks Foundation grant will help ILRF coordinate and publicize its research on conditions at melon plantations and launch a strategic campaign based on that research to empower the women workers. It will involve engaging consumers and governments to pressure global companies to respect the melon workers' rights, and it will help them organize for rights and benefits such as maternity leave. ILRF will also press for strong protections for women workers in free trade agreements.
Helping women break into the skilled trades and thrive as union leadersIn the construction trades, 98% of workers are men. The first phase of Tradeswomen's "Building Union Women Leaders for the Building Trades" project will be a late April conference in Oakland, California for women in the skilled crafts, co-sponsored with the state construction trades council and the AFL-CIO National Building and Construction Trades Department.
The Berger-Marks grant is helping Tradeswomen boost the participation of younger women by sponsoring 100 women from pre-apprenticeship programs, many of them from disadvantaged backgrounds, along with other young women interested in exploring careers in the trades. The conference will give them a chance to rub shoulders with 300-400 union tradeswomen, including women leaders, and learn about the advantages of union work. Tradeswomen, Inc. is sponsoring a targeted interactive workshop track for the pre-apprentices, including a workshop on Surviving and Thriving in Apprenticeship, and will follow up by mentoring many of the young women.
The Foundation's grant will also support three follow-up Union Leadership Workshops and Roundtables that Tradeswomen will design for young women in the construction trades in the San Francisco Bay Area. Delegates will be encouraged to build follow-up support networks, partly through web and Facebook pages that the grant also contributes to.
9to5, National Association of Working Women, Atlanta chapter:
Fair Eats campaign stands up for restaurant workersFor nearly three decades, 9to5 Atlanta has been standing up for low-income women. It's a leading force in the Georgia Minimum Wage Coalition, which won a living wage ordinance for the city of Atlanta in 2005.
Berger-Marks is contributing to 9to5 Atlanta's new Fair Eats Campaign, a grassroots effort to hike the minimum wage for tipped workers, which has been stuck at $2.13 an hour for 20 years.
The Fair Eats campaign is recruiting servers and community allies, putting pressure on local restaurants, and backing federal legislation. The campaign is being launched with a survey of local wages and restaurant policies, along with "Talk Back" nights and meetings with tipped workers.
They plan to launch an interactive website for servers and the public, where they will publicize and celebrate "Dine with a Heart" restaurants that pay above the minimum wage and provide positive workplace benefits. A related goal is to build leadership by involving at least 30 low-wage servers this year in the planning, implementation and evaluation of the campaign.
Interfaith Worker Justice:
Local women organizers get help to attend & participate in national conference
IWJ wants to make sure that women take leadership at all IWJ's national organizing events. This year's grant will pay travel costs so that the women who participated in that Safe Spaces retreat can take part in IWJ's National Conference in June.
The group includes poultry workers, domestic care givers, day care providers, organizers, community leaders, and family women, many of them of Latina, Filipina and African ethnicities. Thanks to the grant, they can network with other women in attendance and help shape the organization's future.
International Union of Painters and Allied Trades:
Five union craftswomen get schooling opportunity to lead skilled trades courses
|W.V. Women Work|
The painters union is using the grant to train five outstanding craftswomen members to become effective instructors in their occupations. This will not only promote workplace equality but also present role models to young workers and potential craftswomen. Becoming an instructor has traditionally been a career path for advancement in the union, and the project will show males in the Finishing Trades that women are capable of becoming successful leaders.
The instructor training involves a curriculum of courses, taught by women, in teaching techniques and OSHA at the International Training Center (ITC) in Hanover, Maryland, where participants can also get college credit. In addition, they will get ongoing support from union staff during and after the instructor training.
Pride At Work, AFL-CIO:
Training to help women lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers organize & advance
LGBT workers confront many barriers in the workplace, including low pay, cultural myths and discrimination. Lesbian families are especially vulnerable, with a poverty rate 40% higher than that for different-sex married couple families and 70% higher than the poverty rate of gay male coupled families.
Although many LGBT workers are attracted to unions, they are put off by the homophobia within unions and the lack of role models in leadership. "Even after decades of struggling," explains Pride at Work, "there are only three 'out' lesbian elected officers in all national and international unions combined." To address this leadership problem, Pride At Work runs programs to educate and support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender union workers, and help them move up the ladder in their unions. However, many women members can't afford to attend.
This year a Berger-Marks grant will help ensure that women are equally represented in the Leadership Training Program, a mission similar to the one we funded two years ago. Our support will help at least 60 women attend a 1.5-day intensive LGBT Labor Leadership Training session at little or no cost.
Teamster Women's Committee, Local 638:
Calendar to feature union women & the union advantage, not pin-ups
"We would like to show that there is room enough for them and that there is strength in unity," says Women's Committee member Diane Ersbo.
The Berger-Marks grant will help the committee take the photos and print the calendar at a union shop.
Academic/ Research grants in '11
Study guide for workshop “Why Women Should Join Unions,” is based on new book
A Berger-Marks grant will help her develop, test, revise, and distribute a guide for workshops based on Roosevelt's history and vision, entitled "Why Women Should Join Unions." Along with photos and documents from the book, the guide will be available on O'Farrell's web page.
The guide will be reviewed by a small advisory group, and will be tested in workshops presented to ten union women's schools and conferences, including the annual convention of the Coalition of Labor Union Women this fall. Iit will help facilitators lead a discussion on how to use the historical documents to reach out to young women and strengthen union women, develop their leadership skills, and spark organizing. It will highlight the importance of women's contributions, past and present, and young women will be asked to consider the question, "Who is your Eleanor Roosevelt today?"
Workers' Guide to Health and Safety, will feature chapter on Work Hazards in Electronics Factories
As Hesperian points out, women make up an important majority of the global factory workforce; many are young women in electronics factories who are exposed daily to health threats, reproductive risks, sexual violence, and systematic human rights violations. So its upcoming book, A Workers' Guide to Health and Safety, will feature a chapter on "Work Hazards in Electronics Factories," thanks to this year's Berger-Marks grant supporting research for it.
Another section of the book, on "Social Hazards and Solutions," has already been written and is being reviewed by potential users, thanks to a Berger-Marks grant last year.
The book examines the structures that allow injustice to exist, and encourages workers to organize for change. Before the Guide is released, it will be reviewed by worker groups in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the United States, with draft materials made available in English, Spanish, Indonesian and Chinese. It is slated to be published in 2012.
Grants to organizers in '11
Encouraging people to join South Carolina's Young Workers Committee
S.C. AFL-CIOWith fewer than 5% of workers belong to unions state-wide, South Carolina union supporters have their work cut out for them.
Alberta Glover, a former UNITE-HERE! Local union president, lost the union job she'd relied on for 27 years when it was moved overseas. Glover went back to school – but didn't leave her union principles behind. "As an educator I now have the opportunity to interact with many students and young teachers and share my union experiences," she explains.
She has teamed up with the state AFL-CIO and a young community organizer active with the NAACP to encourage young people to join the S.C. Young Workers Committee and learn how to organize. They also are helping set up a Jobs with Justice (JWJ) chapter in South Carolina.
Organizing for a living wage & fighting exploitation at Northwestern University
Northwestern Living Wage Campaign
Petrie is using this Berger-Marks grant to help food service, housekeeping and janitorial workers unite against exploitation by the companies the University has subcontracted with. To rally support for this largely minority and immigrant workforce, she continues to work for the goals of the living wage campaign, and to organize among students and student groups, faculty, staff and community folks.
Petrie is also reaching out to some 2,000 university donors and alumni. She is helping plan a Living Wage Activist Conference and preparing materials for a student-organized seminar on organizing techniques.