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 educationalprogram, 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