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.
Reinventing collective bargaining for the 21st century.
Deepening ties between networks to build organizational strength and leadership
Growing the membership base and organizing capacity of worker and community organizations.
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.
- 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!
- Bargaining for the Common Good: Climate Justice. The Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE), the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University (KI), and the Center for Innovation in Worker Organization at Rutgers (CIWO) hosted the virtual the Bargaining for the Common Good: Climate Justice Convening on March 31—April 1, 2020. Hundreds of environmental, climate, and labor leaders and activists from around the country gathered virtually to discuss how unions and community can come together to bargain for climate and environmental justice. The virtual convening featured activists from across the U.S. and abroad, sharing the challenges and successes of Bargaining for the Common Good campaigns as well as information about the current climate and environmental crises communities are grappling with, and the global public health crisis we are all experiencing due to COVID-19 (See what participants had to say on Twitter & Facebook: #BargainClimateJustice #StopCoronavirusCapitalism).
- WILL Empower has extended deadlines for the Apprenticeship program until May 15, 2020. Click here to apply!
- The Build the Bench and WILL Empower communities came together in March 2020 to share strategies about leading during the stressful COVID-19 pandemic. Participants from around the country joined video conferences with their respective communities of learning & practice to share solidarity and insight into the balance of leading at their organizations and as caregivers in their families. Leaders were eager to share their organization's resources for communication and policy in this time of upheaval, as well as personal, grounding sources for keeping mentally & emotionally well when there is so much out of our control. Participants expressed gratitude and relief at connecting with other leaders who are persevering in a similar professional role. CIWO is glad to be able to create these spaces for leaders to connect and thrive, even in uncertainty.
- Build the Bench 2020 Webinar Series kicked off on February 27, 2020 with Webinar #1 - "Managing Up/Leading Up in Tumultuous Times." 20 Build the Bench leaders from across the country came together to engage with each other around managing up. We are excited to see the BTB community grow and deepen! Webinar #2 on April 23, 2020 will be a peer coaching session! More details to come.
- 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 co-hosts founding scholar of Critical Race Theory. CIWO had the privilege of welcoming a founding scholar of Critical Race Theory, Prof. Mari Matsuda, to the SMLR community on February 27, 2020 at the Labor Education Center. For this seminar-style gathering, Matsuda shared the origin story of the founding of Critical Race Theory and discussed the key tenets of the approach. She explained the necessity of scholars hearing the voices of those most often silenced to work towards protections and remedies against “racist hate speech,” and white supremacy in American society, on our campuses. She was joined by SMLR’s Assistant Professor Tami Lee, discussing the benefits of a Critical Race Theory approach in Industrial Relations theory. Lee asserted that bringing intersectionality to the forefront of researching the complexity of racism and sexism in employee relations and employment discrimination would provide a more accurate and inclusive analysis of workers as we advance research in the “future of workers” era. 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.
Left to Right: Dr. Sheri Davis, Dr. Mari Matsuda, Dr. Tami Lee
- 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
- Bargaining for the Common Good in Higher Education - CIWO, along with ACRE and the Georgetown Kalmanovitz Institute, hosted and facilitated a gathering of higher education union leaders representing faculty, staff, and graduate students from around the country on November 8-9, 2019 in Washington, DC. “CIWO is excited to partner with unions, community and racial justice groups to build a movement to transform bargaining into cutting edge Bargaining for the Common Good!” -- Marilyn Sneiderman, CIWO Executive Director
- Educators, Organizers, and Activists Join Together for Housing Justice Gathering - Over 200 organizers and activists from labor unions, housing justice organizations, worker centers and community organizing groups from across the country gathered in Chicago on July 28-30, 2019 to learn from the latest research and discuss important solutions to the nationwide housing crisis. The Bargaining for the Common Good (BCG) Housing Justice convening was a joint effort of CIWO, the Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE) and the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor (KI) at Georgetown University. BCG activities were held at the Chicago Teachers Union and SEIU Healthcare Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas. Read more
- Congress has 'The Squad,' WILL Empower has 'The Crew': Building Networks of Powerful Executive Women Innovating Labor Leadership - WILL Empower is at the cutting edge of national efforts to identify, nurture, train, and foster lasting relationships among a new generation of women labor leaders. At CIWO we often say that women with a crew are more likely to be bold and courageous. June 25th marked the first convening of the inaugural WILL Empower Executive Leadership Cohort. Fifteen women leaders gathered at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ for the first of three retreats. They represent large public and private sector unions, immigrant and Black worker centers, and community-based organizations where worker well-being is central to the mission. Read more
- Inspiring Network Leaders Gather for 5th Annual CIWO Build the Bench Convening - CIWO was proud to host the 5th annual Build the Bench Convening on July 10, 2019, in Silver Spring, MD where 27 leaders from across the country came together to support their growth as organizational and movement leaders through connection with CIWO and others in similar roles. Read more
- Bargaining for the Common Good Advisory Committee - CIWO is a core partner of the growing Bargaining for the Common Good (BCG) network, along with the Action Center on Race and the Economy and the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University. The Bargaining for the Common Good Advisory Committee, a new national advisory group composed of key union, community and racial justice leaders to help guide and support the BCG network, was recently announced. Read more
Welcome Legna J. Cabrera, Managing Director of CIWO! Legna joins us from The Worker Institute at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Her research has focused on projects related to low-wage and marginalized workers. Legna supported the mission of worker centers in New York City by developing and facilitating leadership development programs for workers in the construction, house cleaning, and restaurant industries. She also served as an adjunct at City University of New York's School of Labor and Urban Studies, where she taught research methods. For more than 15 years, Legna has facilitated leadership, research, and economics courses as part of the UALE Northeast Summer School for Women in Unions and Worker Organizations, and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) – New York Chapter. Before joining Cornell, she worked with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in Puerto Rico, and locals 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and 32BJ SEIU, both in New York City. Legna holds a master’s degree in labor and employment relations from Rutgers and a bachelor's degree from the University of Puerto Rico. Welcome, Legna!
Women’s Work? Voices of Vermont Educators by Rebecca Kolins Givan and Pamela Whitefield
In the past few years, public schools in Vermont have been at the center of far-reaching policy debates and numerous administrative changes. Often absent from these policy debates are the voices of educators themselves, the majority of whom are professional women. These educators have firsthand knowledge of the challenges facing Vermont schools. This report details the reality.
Download the report: Women's Work? Voices of Vermont Educators. View the early press coverage.
Partners and Supporters
CIWO collaborates with many local, regional, and national partner organizations, networks, and foundations. View the list of our partners and supporters.