Building Our Future – A Challenge, A Priority!

March 13, 2018

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Front Row (L-R): Zora Dudley, Mike Ferrara, Karen Greenfield, Lisa Ray, Tia Polihros, Howard Polner, Jamille Way, Rick Slater
Back Row (L-R): Brian Pigott, Joe Shevlin, John H. Dirzius, Anthony Moya, Michael Congo, Mike Gallagher

On March 2, thirteen APWU members participated in a day-long focus group to test the curriculum being developed by Rutgers University’s Labor Education Center for the union’s ongoing efforts to build an APWU broad-based educational program, known as the APWU National Institute.

The APWU National Institute would include week-long training sessions with modules for new member orientation, trainings geared to members and stewards, as well as special segments for meetings and conferences. Training topics would include organizing unionism, grassroot leadership skills, history, income inequality, privatization, “who controls our destiny,” collective bargaining, diversity, social and political roles of labor unions, and the culture of resistance.

“The training was well received by our group,” said Northeast Region Coordinator John H. Dirzius. “It was a unique experience to focus not only on building the APWU, but also the skills to help rebuild the labor movement.”

“The group's training evaluation comments were very positive. It was a great group of activists, a good learning experience, and a fun day,” added Eastern Region Coordinator Mike Gallagher. “Our group had lots of energy, gave excellent feedback on the curriculum and made our day productive and enjoyable."

The Rutgers instructors included: Carmen Martino, Assistant Professor, Professional Practice and Occupational Training and Education Consortium (OTEC) Co-Director; Dr. Michael Merrill, Director of Labor Education and Research Now (LEARN) and Professor of Professional Practice at Labor Studies and Employment Relations (LSER); and Tia Polihros researcher and editor for OTEC and LEARN. Professor Martino focuses in strategic planning, root cause analysis, high performance work systems, basic skills development, organizing, and stewards training.

 APWU’s focus group included:

  • Mike Ferrara, Mount Vernon (NY) Local President
  • Zora Dudley, Mount Vernon (NY) Local
  • Rick Slater, North Jersey Area Local Executive Vice President
  • Jamille Way, North Jersey Area Local
  • Joe Shevlin, Red Bank (NJ) Local President
  • Howard Polner, Central Jersey Area Local Secretary-Treasurer
  • Anthony Moya, Central Jersey Area Local Editor
  • Michael Congo, Wilmington DE/Malcolm T Smith Area Local
  • Brian Pigott, New Jersey Mid-State Area Local Clerk Division Director
  • Karen Greenfield, Philadelphia BMC Local
  • Lisa Ray, Philadelphia BMC Local
  • John H. Dirzius, Northeast Region Coordinator
  • Mike Gallagher, Eastern Region Coordinator



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