Center for Innovation in Worker Organization (CIWO)

What Is CIWO?

CIWO team

CIWO’s mission is to promote strong workers’ organizations and shift the balance of power towards greater equity in our economy and society. Since its inception, it has leveraged the resources of a highly respected research university to become a centralized go-to institutional resource on strategy and organizational development. Facilitating 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 are CIWO’s primary objectives. 

CIWO has pioneered an innovative strategy which combines a holistic approach to organizing with movement building synergy. Movements, organizations and the individuals within them need support improving their internal structures and practices as well as their external organizing, outreach and training (or professional development) operations. To meet these needs, CIWO has developed a variety of programs that focus on capacity building and internal and external organizing efficacy. The programs are tailored for rank and file activists, for executive and intermediate level leaders, for emerging women leaders and leaders of color, and for organizations as a whole. 

Programs include:

Bargaining for the
Common Good

Build the Bench

BCG group

Reinventing collective bargaining for the 21st century.

Build the Bench

Strengthening the peer networks of senior leaders.

Build the Base 

Strengthening Labor Standards Enforcement

Build the Base

Growing the capacity of civic institutions.

Strengthening Labor Standards Enforcement

Studying and facilitating solutions to non-compliance problems with basic wages.

WILL Empower

WILL Empower

(Women Innovating Labor Leadership) 
Increasing women's leadership in the labor movement.


Recent Updates

View Bargaining for the
Common Good
List of Sample Demands

  • Bargaining for the Common Good: Housing Justice - More than 100 activists, unions, community leaders, and housing groups from across the country joined the Bargaining for the Common Good (BCG) Housing Justice webinar on December 12, 2018 to discuss concerns and issues around affordable housing. Read more
  • Build the Bench for Social Justice - Build the Bench brought together a powerful group of senior leaders of national worker center and community organizing national and regional networks dedicated to fighting for racial, immigrant and economic justice. The gathering opened with a discussion about what the idea and practice of “Resiliency and Heart” means to us and to our organizations at this challenging time. Read more
  • Women Leading the Way in Labor - Meet WILL Empower’s first class of apprentices and learn about the diverse set of women’s leadership development programs that are part of the WILL Empower initiative, including Innovative Women Fellowships, Cohorts of Learning and Mentoring, and Apprenticeships. Read more
  • Convening on Unions and Worker Ownership - More than 70 union leaders, academics and other thought leaders participated in an innovative conference on "Unions and Worker Ownership" to discuss emerging models where unions have embraced worker ownership as part of their labor strategy. Read more


  • We are accepting applications for the Apprenticeship Program. Applications are due by April 15, 2019. Click here to apply  

  • In late February 2018, the ‘Bargaining for the Common Good in Higher Education Convening” brought together over 200 labor, community and racial justice leaders representing 50 campuses across the country to strategize about common good bargaining and organizing. Learn more about this event.    

  • 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 EducatorsView the early press coverage.
To learn more about the Center for Innovation in Worker Organization, view our news and events. 

    Partners and Supporters

    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.