The Center for Innovation in Worker Organization at Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations 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 is a national advisory group composed of key union, community and racial justice leaders to help guide and support the BCG network. 

Members of the BCG Advisory Committee:

Photo of Afua Atta-MensahAfua Atta-Mensah

Afua Atta-Mensah is the Chief of Programs at Community Change. Previously she served as executive director of Community Voices Heard (CVH), a member-led multi-racial organization, principally women of color and low-income families in New York State that builds power to secure racial, social and economic justice for all. Between 2012 and 2016, Afua was the Urban Justice Center’s Director of Litigation and Policy for the Safety Net Project. In 2008 she was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in support of her work at the International Federation of Women Attorneys advocating on behalf of indigent women in Ghana. She also worked with area lawyers to develop proposed legislation for marital rape law and served as a visiting lecturer at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, where she taught a course on women’s rights in the context of Ashanti-tribal law. In both Ghana, West Africa and the United States, Afua has worked to improve the quality and quantity of fair and equitable housing, defend women’s rights, galvanize support for programs benefiting low-income families, and fight to dismantle systemic racism. Afua holds a law degree from Fordham Univ. School of Law, and a BA in Sociology and African American History from Trinity College.  She and her husband Cephas are proud parents of two children and reside in the “village of Harlem”.

Photo of Rob BarilRob Baril

Rob Baril has been president of District 1199 NE/SEIU since January 2019. Rob’s approach to social justice and organizing combines a belief in the words of abolitionist Frederick Douglas that “power concedes nothing without a demand” and Martin Luther King’s guidance that “love is the only cement” that can hold a broken society together. Previously, Rob served as Organizing Director for a decade helping organize over 10,000 workers from nursing homes, group homes, and home care into 1199. He led contract fights for fair wages and benefits, campaigns that secured state funding to raise wages and improve access to benefits like affordable healthcare, training funds, and defined benefit pension plans. From 1996-1998, Rob was lead organizer at Direct Action for Rights and and Equality in Providence, Rhode Island, where he led campaigns of Black and Latino victims of police brutality and helped fund the Rhode Island chapter of Jobs with Justice. He joined 1199 out of a belief that unions are the most effective vehicle working people have to achieve racial and economic justice. Rob is working to further 1199’s leadership development and build the local into a leading voice on racial justice campaigns in the workplace and remains active in supporting the work of Black Lives Matter across the country and achieving racial justice.

Photo of Stacy Davis GatesStacy Davis Gates

Stacy is President for the Chicago Teachers Union, has been a high school teacher for over a decade, and lives on the south side of Chicago with her husband and three children. While at the CTU, Stacy has been the architect of bold political and legislative campaigns for the schools and city that all Chicagoans deserve. Stacy has successfully raised millions of dollars to elect classroom teachers to all levels of local government and to challenge school privatizers and union-busters. She has also spearheaded successful statewide legislative campaigns to pass the strongest charter school accountability measures in the country, to restore the bargaining rights of Chicago Public Schools employees, and to fully fund public education by ending tax loopholes for the 1%. Stacy was elected Chair of United Working Families and serves as a board member for The Action Center on Race & the Economy. Stacy is a proud graduate of Saint Mary’s College, the University of Notre Dame, and Concordia University.

Photo of Cindy EstradaCindy Estrada

Cynthia Estrada is the strategic adviser to the president for the newly formed Center for Transformational Organizing at the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of U.S. unions. Her primary role involves facilitating cross-movement organizing that aims to generate unprecedented union growth through strategic national campaigns. With 26 years of experience in the labor movement, she previously served as the vice president of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) before joining the AFL-CIO. Estrada has held various positions within the UAW, from a grassroots organizer to vice president of organizing, and overseeing complex campaigns. She notably led negotiations for the Michigan Coalition of State Employee Unions, securing historic agreements for 35,000 state employees. As director of the UAW's Independents, Parts, and Suppliers/Competitive Shop Department, she championed industry-wide compensation standards, emphasizing fair competition among companies, leading to significant agreements in auto component industries. Estrada made history as the first woman and Latina to lead the UAW's General Motors Department and subsequently led other key departments. The longtime organizer and activist is involved with many labor and community organizations. Estrada is a proud member of UAW Local 174. She is the proud mother of twin sons, stepmother to four and grandmother of six.

Photo of Carlos FernandezCarlos Fernandez

Carlos is the Interim Executive Director of Grassroots Collaborative. He joined Grassroots Collaborative as a Common Good Bargaining Director in 2021. Carlos comes to Grassroots Collaborative after 10 years as a National Representative for the American Federation of Teachers, and 10 years in a number of organizing and program roles at community and labor organizations in Chicago. His work to build worker power, immigrants’ voices, global justice, and community-labor alliances has been motivated and guided by his upbringing in an Mexican immigrant family, growing up on Chicago’s southwest side, and witnessing and studying neoliberalism’s reshaping of local, national and global forces.

Photo of Francisco GarciaFrancisco Garcia

The Rev. Francisco García is a PhD student in Religion at Vanderbilt University and a Graduate Research Fellow at Vanderbilt Divinity School’s Wendland-Cook Program in Religion and Justice. An Episcopal priest and former community and labor organizer, his research project entails developing theologies and ecclesiologies (church models) rooted in the organizing, social movement, and liberative faith traditions, in order to better equip communities of faith to address the pressing justice issues of our time.
Francisco is a seasoned organizer and leader in the labor movement having worked with SEIU, UAW, AFSCME and Warehouse Workers United. Francisco graduated from UCLA and completed his M.Div. from the joint program at the Claremont School of Theology and the Episcopal Theological School at Claremont, and was ordained an Episcopal priest in June 2013. He has served on the Board of CLUE Los Angeles, as a clergy leader with L.A. Voice, and as Rector of Holy Faith Episcopal Church. He currently serves as a liaison to the Central Labor Council of Middle Tennessee-Nashville and the Interreligious Network for Worker Solidarity. Francisco’s work focuses on congregation-based ministry and interfaith community organizing/advocacy around immigrant rights, housing rights, and racial and economic justice issues.

Photo of Henry GarridoHenry Garrido

Henry A. Garrido is the Executive Director of District Council 37, NYC’s largest municipal employees union with 125,000 members and nearly 50,000 retirees. Under his leadership, the union settled a city-wide contract agreement; pushed for legislation to protect public sector unions; supported universal free school lunch; fought for additional funding for NYC’s public hospitals and schools; and initiated one of the most extensive organizing drives in the union’s history. Previously, Garrido served associate director of DC 37 and helped establish the Municipal Employees Housing Program. He also directed the union’s white paper project, which addressed city waste by investigating contracting out and identifying revenue sources. He is a trustee on the city’s Workforce Investment Board, which advises the mayor on jobs and economic development, and serves on the board of the New York City Employees Retirement System (NYCERS). A native of the Dominican Republic, he is the first Latino to head DC 37 since it was formed in 1944.

Photo of Nell GeiserNell Geiser

Nell Geiser is director of research for the Communications Workers of America, a labor union representing workers in telecommunications, media, technology, public service, airlines, manufacturing, and other sectors. Nell and the research department support CWA campaigns across organizing, bargaining and policy, developing evidence and tools for workers to challenge corporate power and advance democracy. Nell has worked as a researcher and campaigner in the labor movement since 2006, supporting organizing victories in retail and distribution among other sectors, and in 2011 she fulfilled the requirements to become a Chartered Financial Analyst. Previous to working for unions, Nell was a radio journalist and student activist.

Photo of Lauren JacobsLauren Jacobs

Lauren is the Executive Director of Partnership for Working Families. She has been an organizer for 20 years. She began organizing factories with UNITE in the south and later joined SEIU. During her 17 years at SEIU, she served in a number of roles, from organizer to Vice President. Over the course of those years, she organized thousands of previously non-union janitors and security officers in three major metropolitan areas. She led contract campaigns for tens of thousands of workers in Boston and the Bay Area, which resulted in breakthroughs in wages, healthcare, and other benefits. Lauren’s most recent work was with the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC) as the organization’s National Organizing Director.  Lauren is a proud native New Yorker, a daughter of Harlem, a fair-weather crocheter, and a pokey runner.

Photo of Christina LivingstonChristina Livingston

Christina is the Executive Director of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE). She began her organizing career in 2004 when she was hired as a field organizer for Los Angeles ACORN. In 2010 Christina helped form ACCE where she worked for 2 years as Statewide Deputy Director before becoming Executive Director in 2012. In her organizing career Christina has worked on campaigns that addressed equitable infrastructure investment, progressive revenue solutions, housing equity, access to high quality and well-funded public services, corporate accountability, good government, representative voter engagement, and criminal justice. She centers her work at the intersection of racial and economic impacts and is passionate about increasing the voices of people of color, poor folks, and women.

Photo of Vonda McDanielVonda McDaniel

Vonda McDaniel is President of the Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle Tennessee and a Vice President on the National AFL-CIO Executive Council. Vonda joined the United Rubber Workers (URW) in 1992 at the Bridgestone-Firestone Lavergne Plant, where she has worked for the last 26 years. Shortly after joining the Union, she became a Shop Steward which began her Union journey. In 1995, URW merged with the United Steelworkers (USW), opening up new opportunities for her as a young activist. Vonda was trained in the USW’s Women of Steel initiative, which equipped her with vital tools to become a leader in her Union and community. She went on to become a trainer in the program herself. Growing up in Nashville, Vonda’s activism continues to be shaped by the influence of the church she grew up in. First Baptist Church, Capitol Hill was an early center of student organizing during the civil rights movement. There she learned how ordinary people can make extraordinary change. 

Photo of Veronica Mendez MooreVeronica Mendez Moore

Veronica is a Co-Director at Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL), a Workers Center in Minneapolis. For over eight years, she has organized and developed leadership with low-wage workers to fight for fair wages and working conditions in industries across the Twin Cities. CTUL plays a crucial role in the labor movement, creating innovative models of organizing. Most recently, CTUL organized retail janitors across the Minneapolis metro area, resulting in Target implementing a Responsible Contractor Policy with its cleaning contractors, as well as industry-wide wage increases. This policy is the first of its kind in this industry nationwide and ensures organizing rights for janitors who clean Target. Workers continue to sit at the table with Target, and have partnered to win earned sick and safe time in Minneapolis. Before that, Veronica organized with hotel workers with the Hotel Employees Restaurant Employees Union (HERE) in Chicago.

Photo of Cecily Myart-CruzCecily Myart-Cruz

Cecily Myart-Cruz is a teacher, activist and the United Teachers Los Angeles President, The first woman of color president in the union’s 50-year history. She previously served as UTLA/NEA Vice President for six years and taught for 26 years, at both elementary and middle school levels. As a UTLA Area leader, she has worked with schools, parents, students and the community to oust 23 “bully principals” and collaborated with school communities in initiating a year-long boycott of district periodic assessments in protest of excessive testing of students. She is no stranger in taking direct action, whether it is fighting against co-locations, demanding Ethnic Studies, declaring the end the criminalization of youth, lobbying at the local and state level for more resources, or leading innovative Racial Justice work within the union–all while centering student voices. Cecily has continued to build strength and power for UTLA through a strong relationship with local, statewide and national leaders. She is the Chair of the NEA Black Caucus and member of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles.

Photo of Greg NammacherGreg Nammacher 

Greg is President of SEIU Local 26, a union of 8000 janitorial, security, airport and other property services workers in the Twin Cities, Minnesota. He has organized in churches, on campus, in communities and in worksites since 1996, and led workers on dozens of strikes, including the most recent strikes to win green cleaning education funds for janitors, and a new high rise window cleaner safety Apprenticeship. His work focuses on looking for new ways to bring different elements of the community, and sectors of workers together in deeper alignment than traditional coalitions.

Photo of Patrick NowlanPatrick Nowlan

Patrick is the Executive Director of Rutgers AAUP-AFT, representing nearly 10,000 academic employees at Rutgers University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He started as a Staff Representative in 2002 (member organizing, leadership development, negotiations and legislative relations) before becoming director in 2009. In addition, he serves as the union’s representative to the Public Employee Committee of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO. He has served as a representative for state employees on the State Health Benefits Commission (2008-14) and currently co-chairs the Plan Design Committee of the State Health Benefits Program. He is an alum of the inaugural AFL-CIO Mid-Atlantic Labor Leadership Initiative coordinated through Rutgers, Cornell, Penn State and West Virginia universities. He serves on the AFT committee for the national Fund Our Future campaign and is a founder of the Rutgers University Progressive Alumni Network.  Prior to joining Rutgers AAUP-AFT, he worked for 8 years for the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees (1199/AFSCME) as a National Organizer where he helped organize thousands of health care workers across the country.

Photo of Max PageMax Page

Max Page is president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association. Max is a longtime public education activist who believes that the quality of life in our communities depends on having public schools and colleges that meet the needs of every student and family. Page was elected president of the MTA in May 2022 after serving two terms as vice president. He is on leave from UMass Amherst, where he has been a professor of architecture since 2001. He also has served as the director of the Master of Design in Historic Preservation Program. As an MTA leader, Page helped organize members to ensure passage of the Student Opportunity Act. As president, he is continuing to fight for similar legislation to increase funding for public higher education, with the goal of making it debt-free for students. Page is a resident of Amherst. He lives in his childhood home with his wife, Eve Weinbaum, an associate professor at UMass Amherst, who is the current president of the MSP. They have three children.

Photo of Liz PerlmanLiz Perlman

Liz is the Executive Director of AFSCME 3299—the University of California’s largest employee union, representing more than 25,000 service and patient care technical workers–since 2011.  She has been involved in the labor movement for the past 20 years, leading campaigns for several different unions, including SEIU, UNITE HERE and AFSCME. During her tenure, Liz has worked to transform the local into a powerhouse union–waging a historic contract fight in 2014, linking the local’s work with campaigns for economic, housing, and education justice across California, and a four-year campaign to stop the outsourcing of university jobs that has led to precedent-setting gains for low-wage workers of color. Liz believes in centering workers in strategy and tactics to build power. Liz also serves on the University of California Berkeley Labor Advisory Board, and has been involved in the Bargaining For Common Good movement since its inception.

Photo of Clayton SinaiClayton Sinyai

Clayton is the Executive Director of the Catholic Labor Network, an association of Catholic union activists – clergy, religious and lay – committed to Catholic Social Teaching on labor and work, and to fostering collaboration between Church and labor organizations to advance worker justice. A former rubberworker, railroad clerk, and letter carrier, he has spent the past two decades in a variety of union staff roles as a researcher, organizer, and communications director. Clayton is a member of (Construction) Laborers’ Union Local 11 in Washington DC and Knights of Columbus Council 17056 in his home parish of St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church in Falls Church VA. He’s also the author of Schools of Democracy: A Political History of the American Labor Movement (Cornell, 2006).

Photo of Erica SmileyErica Smiley

Smiley is the Executive Director of Jobs With Justice. A long-time organizer and movement leader, Smiley has been spearheading strategic organizing and policy interventions for Jobs With Justice for nearly 15 years. Prior to taking up her current position with the organization, she served as organizing director for Jobs With Justice developing campaigns that resulted in transformative changes to how working people organize and are civically engaged at their workplaces and in their communities. During her tenure at Jobs With Justice, Smiley has served in numerous leadership capacities including as campaigns director and as senior field organizer for the southern region. Smiley was recently named a WILL Empower Fellow – a joint project of Rutgers University and Georgetown University. Originally from Greensboro, NC, and a proud product of public schools, she currently resides in New Jersey alongside her partner, Amanda.