This summer the New England Joint Board took part in UNITE HERE’s international “Organizing Beyond Barriers” (OBB) summer intern program. The program places young people with a UNITE HERE local or Joint Board for the entire summer doing work organizing new members, running strategic campaigns, and building our union. The NEJB had two recent college graduates; Daniel Hayes from the University of Connecticut and Benjamin Taylor from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Flora Perez a rank and file leave of absence organizer from NEJB Local 75 at Angelica Textiles.
Together the three summer organizers worked in Worcester, Massachusetts, where there is a large presence of NEJB members. The three organizers made weekly visits to NEJB Local 313 at the TJMaxx distribution center registering members to vote and helping prepare for upcoming contract negotiations. The summer organizers were also instrumental in starting new organizing drives in the city of Worcester that will eventually bring new members to our union. Summer organizers were aided by dozens of volunteer members from Local 313 and Local 75 in conducting house visits to our members in the city.
Through their hard work the NEJB has begun valuable relationships with like-minded organizations in the city working towards social and economic justice. These community relationships are important to have for when our union needs support during bitter contract negotiations. In addition to this work in Worcester the OBB organizers aided Local 151 at Madison Polymeric (Branford, CT) in a delegation to their boss, participated in political canvassing in South Boston and Dorchester for pro-labor candidates, stood in solidarity with striking union workers at a Coca-Cola plant in Hartford, CT, and visited many of our shops across New England. Overall, the program helped build the strength of our union and inspired many of our members to be more active politically, within their union and within their community. Thanks for your hard work Ben, Daniel, and Flora!