Last week the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO held the 58th Annual Community Services Institute in Reading, PA. Union and community activists from across the Commonwealth came together to discuss and plan projects in their neighborhoods. The three-day conference included workshops and panel discussions on a wide range of issues facing Pennsylvania’s communities and training for CSI delegates. President Bloomingdale kicked off the conference Wednesday evening with Community Services Chairman and AFSCME Council 13 Director Dave Fillman, Reading-Berks CLC President Bob Hoffmaster and NAACP Reading President Stacey Taylor.
On Thursday morning, Representative Thomas Caltagirone and Senator Judith Schwank, both of whom represent Berks County in the General Assembly, discussed how legislation impacts community service work. Following their remarks to the General Session, the legislators had the opportunity to hear from delegates who shared their stories of Labor’s community involvement across the state. Thursday’s workshops were themed around issues facing union members, including Strike and Layoff Assistance, Navigating Your Community Resources, “Right to Work”, and Drug Abuse and the Opioid Crisis.
Friday featured two General Sessions, the first of which, a discussion on natural partnerships in our communities, was led by Labor Liaisons Joe Delale, Jean Martin, and Nicole Fuller. The panel focused on the importance of dialogue and overcoming perceived differences. The second General Session of the day focused on the developing community partnerships as a tool for workforce development. The session led by Stuart Bass, Tammy White, and Eric Ramsay, prioritized maximizing Labor’s impact on the community by working within coalitions to build sustainable change. Friday’s workshops focused on developing delegates’ tools for community engagement, including Breaking Down the Barriers, Social Media, How to Communicate Effectively, and Community Power Mapping.
The final day of the conference featured two sessions of group work, the first, moderated by Labor Liaison Ashley Chambers and Gregg Potter, focused on community engagement in delegates’ local areas. Participants shared their experiences working with partner organizations in their community. The final General Session and Closing were moderated by Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder and Gregg Potter. In his closing remarks, Secretary-Treasurer Snyder thanked the delegates for their dedication and encouraged each of them to help recruit more community services activists in the labor movement.