CIWO in action

Center for Innovation in Worker Organization (CIWO)

What is CIWO?

The Center for Innovation in Worker Organization (CIWO) is a “think and do tank” whose mission is the promotion of strong workers’ organizations. We seek to shift the balance of power towards greater economic and social equality. CIWO leverages the resources of a highly respected research university to create a centralized go-to institute for strategic and organizational development. Our primary objectives are to facilitate the generation and dissemination of ideas, strategies, and programs for newly emergent as well as established worker centers, community organizations, labor unions and their local, state and national networks.

All Black Lives Matter: Read CIWO's statement.

Innovative Movement Building in Unprecedented Times: Read CIWO's Summer Newsletter.

View our mission and goals || Meet the CIWO Fellows || Join our mailing list. 

Programs include:

Bargaining for the
Common Good

Build the Bench

BCG group

Reinventing collective bargaining for the 21st century.

Build the Bench

Deepening ties between networks to build organizational strength and leadership

Build the Base 

Strengthening Labor Standards Enforcement

Build the Base

Growing the membership base and organizing capacity of worker and community organizations.


Strengthening Labor Standards Enforcement

Working with state and local government agencies, worker and community organizations to  improve enforcement of wage and hour, paid sick/safe time and other labor laws.

WILL Empower

WILL Empower

(Women Innovating Labor Leadership) 
A bold initiative to identify, train and convene a new generation of women labor leaders.


Latest News

  • Join CIWO for "Leading in Complexity during Unprecedented Times," a virtual workshop for movement leaders, on Wednesday, August 12th from 1:00-3:30 PM EST.  Register here!

  • CIWO has been awarded a new grant from W.K. Kellogg Foundation to support CIWO programs and grow our work to elevate women of color in the worker justice movement nationwide, amplify underrepresented voices, and diversify leadership in labor and economic justice movements.  Read the full Press Release here.
  • Build the Bench hosted its 6th annual convening virtually on July 28-29, 2020.  Over 20 movement leaders come together to share their successes & challenges with supportive peers. Sessions included: Building Team Resilience & Re-imagining Productivity, Leading in Disruption, Exploring Habits of White Supremacy Culture in Ourselves and Our Organizations, Racial Equity and Justice Values in Practice Within Our Organizational Structures and Operations, and Peer Coaching.
  • #MaptheCommonGood: On May Day, BCG launched a new interactive map tool that will allow unions, community groups, and activists to plan for upcoming contract negotiations and work together to build common good demands. This tool has information on over 5,000 contracts (affecting over 3 million people) nationally and is growing every day. Read a feature story on the map at the Forge: Organizing and Strategy.
  • New BCG Webinar: On Monday, April 20, 2020, the Bargaining for the Common Good network, SEIU Local 26, and The Leap came together to discuss the first union strike over climate issues that was led by 4000 janitors and community groups in Minnesota. Moderated by CIWO Fellow Javier Morillo, former President of SEIU Local 26. #BargainClimateJustice Click here to watch!
  • The Forge Special Issue: Bargaining for the Common Good:  CIWO and our partners in the Bargaining for the Common Good Network are thrilled to announce a new issue of The Forge: Organizing Strategy and Practice -- Bargaining for the Common Good: Organizing in the Coronavirus Era and Beyond.  This special issue, authored by many members of the Bargaining for the Common Good Advisory Committee, includes pieces by CIWO's Marilyn Sneiderman, Sheri Davis, and Todd Vachon. Links to all pieces can be found here.  We are so excited to be sharing this work with you, especially at such a critical moment for social, racial, and economic justice.  Please read these articles, share widely, and give us your feedback!
    • READ "We Want Bread and Housing Too" co-authored by Marilyn Sneiderman & Sheri Davis-Faulkner in English and Spanish.
  • ​​​​​Bargaining for the Common Good hosted a webinar, Chicago Teachers’ Strike for the City Our Students Deserve moderated by Marilyn Sneiderman, CIWO Executive Director, on Thursday, March 5, 2020.  Chicago Teachers' Union Vice President Stacy Davis-Gates and Grassroots Collaborative Executive Director, Amisha Patel (both members of the BCG Advisory Committee) lead a discussion with union members, students and teachers around the strike and the organizing that led to a victory for Chicago’s most vulnerable students and families. Click here to watch the webinar.
    • CIWO welcomed founding scholar of Critical Race Theory, Prof. Mari Matsuda, on February 27, 2020 at the Labor Education Center. She was joined by SMLR’s Assistant Professor Tami Lee, discussing the benefits of a Critical Race Theory approach in Industrial Relations theory. This seminar was co-sponsored by CIWO, SMLR Dean’s Office, SMLR’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, and SMLR's Labor Studies and Employee Relations Department.  Read more here.   
    • Strategic Enforcement of Labor Standards: Regional Training #3 was held in Portland, OR on January 15-16, 2020.  Over 40 participants came together to learn from facilitators (CIWO's Janice Fine and Jenn Round, Harvard's Mark Erlich and NELP's Patricia Smith) and each other how to better scale up their local strategic enforcement efforts using the CIWO/CLASP Labor Standards Enforcement Toolbox as a guiding framework.
    • WILL Empower Closed Out the Decade with Growing Movement of Women Leaders - WILL Empower (WE) closed out the decade with a remarkable year that grew and deepened our network of women labor leaders including: apprentices, emerging and executive leaders, mentors, advisory council members, sponsors, and more. WE hosted the second class of apprentices, with double the number of applications, participants and host sites from year one and most of the sites were in the South. WE launched the first emerging leaders cohort AND the first executive leadership cohort which represents diverse and dynamic women leading in labor across the country. Read more

      Our Partners

      CIWO collaborates with many local, regional, and national partner organizations, networks, and foundations. View the list of our partners and supporters.


      To contact us, email You can also view the list of CIWO staff members.