Upcoming Events

Please check back soon for our upcoming events.

Recent Highlights

UALE Summer School for Women in Unions and Worker Organizations at SMLR on July 10-14, 2023

Link to English Flyer | Link to Spanish Flyer

Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations is hosting this year’s 46th UALE Northeast Summer School for Women in Unions and Worker Organizations! This is a 4-day residential program that brings together rank-and-file members, staff, and officers of unions and workers’ rights organizations to develop their leadership and strengthen their knowledge and understanding of the U.S. labor movement.

Visit https://smlr.rutgers.edu/wss2023 for more information.

CIWO Celebrates Domestic Workers Worldwide

International Workers’ Day (May Day) traces its origins to the Haymarket Riot of 1886 in Chicago, and the movement to demand eight-hour workdays. This May Day, we are celebrating domestic workers in the US and globally, whose work is often undervalued, unrecognized, and excluded from national labor laws and social protections. On April 18, President Joe Biden announced an Executive Order that includes more than 50 directives for Federal Agencies to increase access to affordable and high-quality care and provide support for care workers and family caregivers in the US. This marks a historic policy shift with provisions such as an increase in compensation and benefits for care workers catering to child care and long-term care for older adults and persons with disabilities. Additionally, the Executive Order acknowledges that care workers have the free and fair choice to join a union. The occasion was marked by The Care Workers Can’t Wait Summit organized by the National Domestic Workers Alliance, AFL-CIO, AFT, AFSCME, Community Change, Care Can’t Wait, and SEIU in Washington, DC.

While celebrating this critical achievement for care workers, CIWO also applauds the global work led by our allies at the International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF), which represents over 670,000 domestic workers in 68 countries. IDWF has been working closely with CIWO’s Transformative Global Leadership Program. On May 1, IDWF hosted a Grads Reunion in Sao Paulo in Brazil for its cohorts from 2019 and 2022 who participated in the Leadership, Unity, reNewal and Amplification (LUNA) program. Led by IDWF in partnership with other allies, LUNA is a leadership initiative geared towards domestic worker leaders in Latin America and the Caribbean. At the Grads Reunion, IDWF participants used the Leadership Journey Mapping tool jointly developed by CIWO and Labour Research Service to better understand and reflect on the nature of leadership challenges and opportunities in a highly feminized sector like domestic work.

Image of WILL Empower Experience

In April, CIWO hosted a WILL Empower Experience to bring together nine dynamic women of color leaders who are moving transformative Bargaining for the Common Good strategies with the Portland Association of Teachers. 

As educators and leaders, they show up for their students, families, and union members everyday. The WILL Empower Experience, facilitated by Sheri Davis, provided space to step back, reflect, and support each other in the challenging and crucial work they take on as women of color individually and collectively. While they fight for broader bargaining demands for their students and communities, WILL Empower aims to nurture and cultivate the visionary leadership they provide in Portland schools, communities and beyond. Since its inception, CIWO has centered visionary leadership, building healthy sustainable organizations, and emergent strategies like Bargaining for the Common Good. WILL Empower continues to provide the space to cultivate, support and grow the leadership of women of color, while Bargaining for the Common Good provides additional strategies for those leaders to implement their values and commitment to racial and gender justice in our workplaces and unions.

Interested in a WILL Empower Experience? Email willempower.labor@gmail.com!

WILL Empower 5th Anniversary & Award Celebration

Image of WILL Empower 5th Anniversary

This Women’s History Month the power of WILL Empower was on full display as we celebrated our first five years! On March 11th we welcomed the newest cohort of Emerging Leaders into our growing WE network with a big event to close out their in-person retreat. The awards ceremony was bursting with joy; from dynamic speakers like AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, SEIU Secretary-Treasurer April Verrett, JWJ ED Erica Smiley, and Washington State Labor Council President April Sims to the many inspiring messages of encouragement from representatives across all WE programs.

Image of speakers at WILL Empower Anniversary Celebration

We honored Jamila Allen with the 2023 Edna Berger Young Courageous Leader Award. Jeanne Wardford (Kellogg Foundation) presented the award to Allen, a fierce worker leader who organized the Union of Southern Service Workers (an SEIU Fight For Fifteen affiliate) in North Carolina. A few of the 2021 WILL Empower Awardees: Angeles Solis (Make the Road NY), Erica Iheme (Jobs to Move America), Cherika Carter (WSLC), and Marshé Doss (UTLA Youth Supporter) welcomed Allen into the WE network. This much needed reunion for Apprentices, Emergers, and Executive cohort members was elevated by DJ Searchlight (aka Tiffany Flowers), who made sure that our Advisory Council, Mentors, core funders/sponsors, and many other supporters who traveled to Rutgers (New Jersey) from Kansas, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Washington State and even Belgium spent time on celebrating on the dance floor. We witnessed our WE network thriving, and WE have only just begun! 

Bargaining for the Common Good Webinar and Summit

Image of BCG leadership summitBCG Bargaining Webinar
Over 400 union members came together in March  for our “Negotiating, BCG Style” webinar to build strategies for Bargaining for the Common Good! Leaders joined from over 50 different unions, with folks joining from all over the country and beyond, including delegations from Nigeria and Mexico. This gathering lifted up key lessons from experienced organizers and negotiators across the country, along with space to strategize for every local who joined. Our panel included Rob Baril from SEIU District 1199 New England, Brahim Kone from SEIU Local 26, Jackson Potter from the Chicago Teachers Union, and Kavitha Iyengar from UAW Local 2865, UC Student-Workers Union. Nell Geiser from CWA and the BCG Advisory Committee emceed the packed hour and half. If you attended, please fill out a survey and stay tuned for follow-up training to put these key lessons into action!

BCG and NEA Leadership Summit
NEA leaders from across the country came together for a NEA Leadership Summit workshop on March 11th to build power Bargaining for the Common Good! The training was led by NEA’s National Senior Bargaining Specialist Brian Beallor and BCG Education Director Sandra Lane and was accompanied by updates and key lessons from  Portland Association of Teachers’ contract negotiations by president Angela Bonilla. Fifty union leaders from schools across the country strategized around what changes students, parents, and educators want to see in our communities, and how to win them with Bargaining for the Common Good campaigns.

Conversation on Building Resilient Organization hosted by Build the Bench

Build the Bench hosted Maurice Mitchell, the National Director of the Working Families Party to have a conversation about his recent article "Building Resilient Organizations: Toward Joy and Durable Power in a Time of Crisis, which addresses many of the issues our Build the Bench leaders are grappling with. On March 1st, 60+ participants gathered and we discussed how leadership teams across our network are using this article as a launching point for internal conversations to build strategies to strengthen and focus their organizations. We really appreciated sharing space with Maurice and look forward to continuing this vital conversation within Build the Bench.

Always Essential Fellowship Story Slam

Image of Always Essential Fellowship

The Always Essential (AE) Fellowship closed on February 21st with an incredible story slam featuring the 2022-2023 fellows. Essential workers from across the country shared 5 minute stories about a moment that made them who they are in front of a live zoom audience of supporters from their organizations, fellows from previous cohorts, and their friends & family. To prepare for the story slam, fellows were trained by Javier Morillo (AE Fellowship Lead Trainer, Moth Story Teller, CIWO Fellow and previous President of SEIU Local 26) over two class sessions on ways to identify and share their story. All fellows were offered 1:1 and group coaching after those two class sessions to talk through their story with trainers.

The story slam and storytelling class sessions are a core piece of the Always Essential Fellowship curriculum because of our belief that the better that we are at telling our own stories - the better we are at listening to other people's stories. Fellows are also organizers who engage with their coworkers to make changes in their workplaces that further economic, gender, racial, and/or climate justice. Training fellows on identifying their own moments of power can only support these organizing efforts to help essential workers across the country find their power too. 

Honoring Black History by Supporting Black Futures

Image copyright National Black Worker Center

This Black History Month, CIWO is highlighting the National Black Worker Center (NBWC) campaign for the Black Worker Bill of Rights. NBWC has a number of ways for you to connect with this campaign on their website. This policy platform is centered on "build[ing] a new anti-racist economy that works for everyone" and demands "10 rights be meaningfully reflected in the law and enforced." We encourage you to check out the Black Worker Bill of Rights and learn how you can support the future of Black workers.

Image copyright National Black Worker Center

This March We Are Celebrating 5 Years of WILL Empower Programming!

Image of WILL Empower highlights

This year is the 5th anniversary of WILL Empower Programs. One way we're celebrating this milestone is by reflecting on what WILL Empower participants have told us about their experiences in our programs:

"WILL Empower taught me the value of showing up as the whole me."

"I realize that I have gifts to give in who I am and how I come to the work."

"WILL Empower is about being unapologetic and unafraid."

"I've never been in a leadership development space like this."

"I've learned to be in the practice of asking for what I need."

"This retreat was important to remind me why I'm in the position I'm in, about the power I have, and that I need to use it."

"I've been in my workplace three years, and we've never had a discussion about race. I'm going to push for that discussion."

WILL Empower is presenting the 2023 Edna Berger Young Courageous Leader Award in March to one young womxn leader who demonstrates a commitment to worker, racial, and gender justice. Look out for our announcement!

Sheri Davis on Lessons from the Chicago Teachers' Union

Image of Sheri DavisClick here to hear Sheri Davis speak about leadership lessons learned from the work of the Chicago Teachers' Union:

"It is not enough for us to talk about what everybody else needs to do...We actually have to unpack some of the reasons why we got to the places where we are as unions."

Click here for a transcript.

Watch the full Building a Movement for the Common Good roundtable, held in November 2022 by Nonprofit Quarterly and Bargaining for the Common Good.

Making Hope and History Rhyme: A New Worker Movement from the Shell of the Old

image of two marches

In this December 2022 New Labor Forum article, authors Marilyn Sneiderman and Stephen Lerner reflect on the lessons of the past half-century & assess the strategic challenges and opportunities confronting a new generation of workers, activists, and organizers.


> Read the full article

> Listen to a discussion of the article on the Reinventing Solidarity Podcast

Labor Rising: Is the Working Class Experiencing a New CIO Moment?

Image of CIWO BTB Advisory Committee MeetingIn this piece in The Progressive Magazine (October 10, 2022), author Sarah Jaffe describes how the CIO benefited from the momentum generated by overlapping protest movements: tenant, immigrant, and anti-racist organizing, all in response to the massive crisis of the Great Depression. Against this background of desperation, the organizers of the 1930s were willing to put resources behind a new path for organizing. Marilyn Sneiderman says that is what unions and organizers should emulate. “This is a time for some massive experimentation, some radical risk-taking, pushing every boundary.”

> Read the full article

Build the Bench Advisory Committee Gathers in
Washington, DC

Image of CIWO BTB Advisory Committee MeetingMembers of the Build the Bench Advisory Committee and CIWO gathered on Friday, September 9, 2022 in Washington, DC to strategize the future of Build the Bench. It was the first in person meeting for the Build the Bench program since the Annual Convening in July 2019. 

> Read more about the Meeting

Announcing the "Building a Movement for the Common Good" Article Series 

image of diverse group of women

Bargaining for the Common Good (BCG) has partnered with the Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ) on a new series of articles about BCG strategy and experiences from those who are doing the work. NPQ is publishing a new article weekly through the end of October. 

> Read the first piece at NPQ, an Introduction to Bargaining for the Common Good.

> Click Here to access the ongoing series as new articles are published each week.

Always Essential Fellowship Launches September 2022

Image of CIWO Always Essential FellowshipCIWO is partnering with United for Respect & the Always Essential Coalition for the 2022 Always Essential Fellowship.

The goal of Always Essential Fellowship is to expose and challenge essential worker leaders to learn new skills, tools, and power analyses that allow them to deepen their understanding of their roles in the larger labor movement and connect with one another to win campaigns that make concrete improvements in the lives of all essential workers. The fellowship will run from September 2022 – February 2023.

Bargaining for the Common Good: Ford Foundation is supporting SMLR’s Center for Innovation in Worker Organization in the fight for racial and social justice.

image of diverse group of women Marilyn Sneiderman says Ford Foundation's support through the #OurSocialBond initiative enabled our Center for Innovation in Worker Organization, Georgetown's Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, and Action Center on Race and the Economy to turbocharge Bargaining for the Common Good.

> Click here to read more.

CIWO Partners with CAWP for Womxn Political Directors Convening May 2022

Image of CIWO Partners with CAWP From May 22nd – May 24th, 2022, past and current Political Directors and labor activists gathered at Rutgers University. CIWO partnered with the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at the Rutgers University Eagleton Institute. Leaders from the following worker justice organizations were in attendance: SEIU 503, United Working Families, Chicago Teachers Union, Washington State Labor Council, The Workers Institute at Cornell University, SEIU 2015, SEIU International, Detroit Action, the Institute for Policy Studies, the NYC Central Labor Council, and AFSCME.

> Click Here to Read More

Build the Bench hosts 8th Annual Convening in May 2022

"As always BTB renews, refreshes, and affirms me and I love it!”

Image of Participants
On May 19-20, 2022, participants from over 20 organizations came together virtually for our eighth annual Build the Bench Convening. This was our third time convening virtually, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 


> Click Here to Read More


A Message from CIWO

Our hearts are heavy for the people who were murdered, those who were harmed, and the families and communities who are directly and indirectly impacted by recent mass shootings in Buffalo, NY and Laguna Woods, CA that occurred over the weekend. We also stand with the more than 1 million people who marched for the right to privacy and for protections for all pregnant people to make choices for their future.

The right to an abortion AND the right to live free from patriarchal violence and white supremacy are all labor issues. We at CIWO believe that racial justice cannot solely be about responding to national crises. Race and gender justice is the practice of making connections that expose and eradicate racism and sexism in our communities, our workplaces, and our movements. Racial justice and gender justice should be centered in all the work, all the time, within all forms of worker justice organizations that make up our movements.

In this time of grieving and prolonged mourning, we encourage folks to pause and reflect; to feel the weight of what is happening in this moment. We cannot continue to push forward as if these attacks on our freedoms are isolated one-off incidents. We cannot be(come) desensitized to violence, which is the bedrock of white supremacy and patriarchy. We cannot normalize political violence, which too often is perpetrated by men, and serves to destabilize the march towards justice and freedom! It is imperative that we investigate the ways that the members of our organizations and the diverse communities that we serve are traumatized and hurting. In labor, we must work to remedy these injuries through storytelling, power-building and by leveraging the strength of our institutions for lasting transformation towards a multiracial economic feminist democracy.

If you or someone that you are in network with workers at a TOPS grocery stores in NY State, UFCW Local 1 is offering free counseling. Please see their post linked here to access services.

Black History - Black Futures

A Conversation with Stacy Davis Gates, Chicago Teachers Union

Image of Black History, Black Futures conversation with Stacy Davis Gates

CIWO is proud to share a recent collaboration with the Labor Education Action Research Network (LEARN) that aims to honor Black history by imagining and cultivating Black futures.

This powerful conversation with our special guest, the dynamic Stacy Davis Gates (Vice President, Chicago Teachers Union - AFT Local 1), is a part of Rutgers SMLR's ongoing celebration of Black History Month and Black leadership in labor movements throughout history.

> Click here to watch the video

Strategies & Reflections from the Womxn's Leadership Symposium

Image of 2021 Womxn's Labor Leadership Symposium & Awards

WILL Empower hosted the first Womxn’s Labor Leadership Symposium & Awards on September 30 and October 1, 2021. The Symposium featured the testimony and narrative of leaders across the country, including Lauren Jacobs of Power Switch Action; Veronica Mendez-Moore of Centro Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha; Sara Steffens of Communications Workers; Sarita Gupta of the Ford Foundation, Stacy Davis-Gates of the Chicago Teachers Union; and Tanya Wallace-Gobern of the National Black Worker Center.  

> Click here to learn more about the Symposium

CIWO Wins New Jersey Future of Work Accelerator Innovation Challenge

We are so proud and grateful to announce that CIWO is among the 19 winners selected for the inaugural cohort in the New Jersey Future of Work Accelerator Program, which will support us in growing our work and social impact in New Jersey.  Read more at Insider NJ and ROI-NJ

CIWO Featured in Rutgers-New Brunswick Impact Report

Image of New Brunswick Impact Report coverCIWO's work helping organizations incubate and launch innovative research agendas, strategies, and community/labor organizational programs resulting in stronger workers’ organizations and greater economic and social equality was featured in the Rutgers University Foundation Summer 2021 Impact Report.

"Thanks to the Center for Innovation in Worker Organization, my peers and I began an energizing and much-needed dialogue on how we can begin to share what we know and are learning.... This is how we will win, together."

— Lauren Jacobs, executive director, Partnership for Working Families

< Read the complete report

Past Events

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Image of Build the Bench 9th Annual Retreat
Image of Build the Bench 9th Annual Retreat

CIWO’s Build the Bench program convened over 30 participants, guests and friends from organizations across the country for their 9th annual retreat on February 20-23, 2024 near Baltimore, MD

02/20/2024 - 02/23/2024
Image of Building a Solidarity Society Event
Image of Building a Solidarity Society Event

Our current capitalist system is jeopardizing the future of the planet. How can we create the coalitions capable of moving us towards an ecofriendly solidarity society? In this talk, we will explore the priorities of the powerful, the mistaken theories that justify their hegemony, and the alternative world views that are firing the imagination and efforts of feminists and other activists to bring about transformative change.

Tue, 02/28/2023 - 12:30pm-1:30pm
Image of CIWO BTB Advisory Committee Meeting
Image of CIWO BTB Advisory Committee Meeting

Members of the Build the Bench Advisory Committee and CIWO gathered on Friday, September 9, 2022 in Washington, DC to strategize the future of Build the Bench.

Fri, 09/09/2022
Image of CIWO Partners with CAWP for Womxn Political Directors Convening May 2022
Image of CIWO Partners with CAWP for Womxn Political Directors Convening May 2022

From May 22nd – May 24th, 2022, past and current Political Directors and labor activists gathered at Rutgers University. CIWO partnered with the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at the Rutgers University Eagleton Institute. Leaders from the following worker justice organizations were in attendance: SEIU 503, United Working Families, Chicago Teachers Union, Washington State Labor Council, The Workers Institute at Cornell University, SEIU 2015, SEIU International, Detroit Action, the Institute for Policy Studies, the NYC Central Labor Council, and AFSCME.


During this 3-day retreat style gathering, leaders engaged in the following:

· “Pathways to Power” discussion featuring past political directors and labor activists who are in elected/selected leadership roles in unions, academia, and municipalities:

o April Sims, Secretary-Treasurer Washington State Labor Council;

o Stacy Davis-Gates, President Elect of the Chicago Teacher’s Union;

o Patricia Campos-Medina, Executive Director of the Workers Institute at Cornell University;

o Dahlia Vertreese, Mayor of Hillside NJ and Labor Liaison with IUOE.

· Interactive exercises led by Dr. Sheri Davis-Faulkner, CIWO Associate Director (WILL Empower Co-Director), as well as Kimberly Peeler-Allen, CAWP Visiting Practitioner (Higher Heights Co-Founder).

· Wellness and community building practices were incorporated throughout the convening.

Wed., 06/22/2022 - Fri., 06/24/2022
Participants from 8th Annual Convening in May 2022
Participants from 8th Annual Convening in May 2022

On May 19-20, 2022, participants from over 20 organizations came together virtually for our eighth annual Build the Bench Convening. This was our third time convening virtually, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Convening on Zoom has its challenges, but Build the Bench participants give it their all whenever they are together, and this event was no exception. Participants gathered from 12-5:30pm EST on both days, which involved 4 main sessions and a cocktail/mocktail hour after the first day to just spend time talking and getting to know each other better (special thanks to Mackenzie Baris of Jobs with Justice  and Aisha Satterwhite of Co-worker for hosting spaces during this time). This year’s convening welcomed many new faces into our ever-growing community; participants enthusiastically built new connections and strengthened their existing relationships. 

Thu., 05/19/2022 - Fri., 05/20/2022 - 12:00pm - 5:30pm
Image of Womxn's Labor Leadership Symposium 2021
Image of Womxn's Labor Leadership Symposium 2021

The inaugural WILL Empower Womxn's Labor Leadership Symposium will be held virtually on September 30 and October 1, and will amplify the groundbreaking work that womxn leaders in the WILL Empower network and across worker justice movements are engaged in. Participants will have the opportunity to connect with others around key questions that we are all grappling with in this moment, and discuss important topics such as transformational leadership; leading in complex times; innovative organizing strategies, and much more! 

Thu, 09/30/2021 - Fri, 10/01/2021 - 11:00am - 6:00pm
Image of Chanda Parmar-Bonta
Image of Chanda Parmar-Bonta

WILL Empower's Young Womxn's Labor Leadership group invites young people interested in the labor movement and progressive organizing to a conversation with labor leader, Chanda Parmar-Bonta of the United Workers Union in Perth. This event will take place on Tuesday, July 20th at 7pm EDT online and is free and open to new and existing members of the WILL Empower network.


Tue, 07/20/21 - 7:00pm -8:15pm
Image of Teacher Unions Webinar
Image of Teacher Unions Webinar

How can we build sustained and mutually respectful partnerships between unions, community organizations, and school families? Join this discussion on building relationships between educators and community and fighting for social justice in education.

Tue, June 8, 2021 - 7:00pm EDT
Strike! A 50th Anniversary Symposium
Strike! A 50th Anniversary Symposium

Since its original publication in 1972, no book has done as much as Jeremy Brecher’s Strike! to bring U.S. labor history to a wide audience. Strike! tells the dramatic story of repeated, massive, and sometimes violent revolts by ordinary working people in America. Told from the point of view of rank-and-file workers Involved in nationwide general strikes, the seizure of vast industrial establishments, and nonviolent direct action on a massive scale, Strike! reveals a dimension of American history rarely found in the usual high school or college history course. Fifty years later, the book still captures the imagintaions of students, workers, and organizers alike, who continue to struggle for progressive social change to improve the lives of working people.

Tue, 04/6/2021 - 8:00pm - 9:30pm
Photo of Putting their Hands on Race Flyer
Photo of Putting their Hands on Race Flyer

Join us for a book talk with Dr. Danielle T. Phillips Cunningham, author of Putting Their Hands on Race: Irish Immigrant and Southern Black Domestic Workers, winner of the 2020 Sarah A. Whaley Book Prize from the National Women's Studies Association.

Wed, 03/31/2021 - 01:00