The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO 2018 Community Services Institute last week brought together delegates from locals and central labor councils across the Commonwealth to discuss projects and develop skills to enhance their community services work. President Rick Bloomingdale emphasized collaboration and coalition building during Wednesday’s opening general session, “we need to work together with community partners, even with those who we don’t always agree with, to develop a skilled workforce”.
On Thursday’s General Session, our Labor Liaisons shared how their unions have partnered with members of the community to make life better for others. These projects include Stuff the Bus in Pittsburgh, Teenworks in Lehigh Valley, and gathering donations for a shelter in Lancaster. Too often the work unions do in the community as activists and neighbors goes unsung. Now more than ever we need to let everyone know that the work we do is the key to prosperity for all workers.
PA AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder and AFL-CIO Campaign Manager Michael Fedor posed an important question at CSI 2018, what do politics have to do with community services. They answered, as Frank Snyder always says, “we have elections, and elections have consequences”. We need to elect representatives that believe in good jobs with good wages and will support public education. Many of the issues that our community services work to change are heavily influenced by the policies set in Harrisburg and Washington. Not only do we need to stay united, Secretary-Treasurer Snyder reminded delegates, we need to be the boots on the ground for our pro-union supporters. “Don’t wait for things to change. Be a part of the solution.”
Workforce development plays a crucial role in revitalizing our communities. On Friday, delegates attended a general session panel that discussed how the Labor Movement can partner with other organizations to build apprenticeship opportunities and impact systemic poverty. This came just days after the Governor announced the groundbreaking PASmart initiative and the new budget’s $7 million allotment for apprenticeship programs. The involvement of labor unions in workforce development is a key part of transforming communities across the Commonwealth.
Check out our newsletters from the Community Services Institute for more information on the workshops and panelists.