Celebrating the Value of Community-Labor Collaboration

October 22, 2012 -- Partnership for Working Families

Partnering with community organizations – in part by creating real and lasting opportunities for low-income workers and workers of color – yields real dividends for building trades unions. That was the message delivered at the 2012 Central Regional Conference organized by the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, where the Partnership’s Deputy Director, Kathleen Mulligan-Hansel, and Citizen Action of Wisconsin’s Matt Brusky both spoke to about 100 IUPAT business managers, organizers and member-leaders.

At the conference, IUPAT leaders and members provided powerful testimonials that demonstrate the value of community-labor collaboration. A Milwaukee organizer talked about reaching out to an organization for youth of color to have a career fair, showcasing the value of a union construction careers to new workers. A business representative from a northeastern region urged union members to seek out leadership opportunities within the union movement and beyond, citing numerous examples in which he sought out collaborations with community organizations based on shared values, and then reaped benefits for his union in the form of new supporters, organizers, advocates and spokespeople for union values. A Midwestern business manager discussed his collaboration with a pre-apprenticeship program.

Kathleen and Matt laid out the Partnership’s vision: stronger community-labor alliances that build real progressive movements in our cities, create more powerful shared visions for community and union members, and pass policies that create opportunity for everyone.

The conference provided evidence that real movement building is happening. When union leaders can tell the story of community needs, and community leaders can attest to the value of high quality construction careers – that’s a shared vision. What a great testament to all the hard work of Partnership and IUPAT affiliates across the country to learn to work together to build a brighter future for everyone.