Encouraging women to pursue construction as a career they can build on

By Sarah Meehan, The Baltimore Sun

Rachel Bryan figured she would wear pearls and a dress to an interview after she completed a pre-apprenticeship program for electricians 12 years ago. "Wrong answer," she said her trainers told her. "You want to dress like you're going to work." It was one of the best pieces of advice she said she ever got.

While a feminine get-up would have been appropriate if she were interviewing for an office job, baggy jeans and boots were a better fit as Bryan pursued a career as an electrician. Now a journey-level electrician and an international representative for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Bryan was one of six women who shared their stories of working in trades during a Saturday panel discussion about job opportunities for African-American women in construction.

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Why does Baltimore need a Black Worker Center?

By Marisela B Gomez, mariselabgomez.com

The thriving of low-income Black workers in Baltimore and beyond is critical for equitable access to housing, food, education, health, recreation, transportation. When someone who works for a living, is still unable to afford adequate food, shelter, clothing and medicine, we remain an inequitable society. When those workers congregate into the same racial/ethnic group, we have systematic racism: racism which is not only individualized but embedded deep within the policies and infrastructures of our society. A Black Worker Center can be a base of organizing to address this inequity for black people in Baltimore*.

The ability to work is the first step toward equity. This means that a person has the physical and mental wellness, health, to support them finding employment. The second step is being qualified to work: has the person had the necessary training to compete in the marketplace for a position? The third step is the availability of work. The fourth step is that the place of employment supports the worker so they can stay in the position and thrive. This fourth step brings us back full circle to the first: a thriving person has the ability to work. It’s a cycle that continues and that either allows a healthy and holistic body and mind to thrive, or not: on a cellular, organ, individual, community level.

Read the full blog post here.

Baltimore’s Black Worker Center organizes

By Len Shindel, Baltimore Post-Examiner

A Brooklyn, N.Y. native, Palmer landed a job at Starbucks while in college in Hicksville, N.Y. “There weren’t many blacks in the town,” says Palmer. “I was hired by an assistant manager. Later, the white store manager came up to me and the first thing she said was, ‘Who hired you?’ Then I trained a white girl to get the promotion I should have gotten.”

Palmer, now a Baltimore-based organizer with UNITE HERE, a national union representing hotel and restaurant workers, was at Coppin State to help launch the Baltimore Black Worker Center, an organizing effort to empower black workers, raise their wages, benefits, respect on the job and challenge the kinds of bias Palmer experienced in her youth.

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ISO more jobs, better jobs, Black Worker Center launches

By Will Kirsch, Baltimore Brew

Coming together in a West Baltimore classroom on the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance, a group of people reflected on one aspect of the civil rights icon’s work – his history of fighting for exploited, underemployed and underpaid black workers.

In a city whose African-American residents still endure structural inequality, poverty and joblessness, the group launching a Baltimore Black Worker Center yesterday saw themselves as essentially addressing the same issues half a century later.

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