As the spring semester of the 65th year of Labor Guild school draws to a close, we’ll be profiling some of the amazing teachers working to give our students the tools to build justice at work.
Elissa Cadillic and Jenn Doe are two long time friends of the Guild, who’ve teamed up to teach a course on coalitions for this semester of Labor Guild school.
Elissa Cadillic is the president of AFSCME Local 1526, representing Boston Public Library workers. She’s also a Labor Guild board member, and the president of the board for the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health. Jenn Doe is the Lead Internal Organizer at SEIU 509, where she’s worked for nearly five years. In the past, she’s worked with Massachusetts Jobs with Justice, and as a strategic researcher for LiUNA Eastern Region.
Both teachers have a long history with the Guild. Jen has been involved off and on since her time at Jobs with Justice, both taking classes and teaching a course on organizing. Jenn has a “special love for the Guild,” which she called one of a small number of organizations that exists primarily for rank and file workers. Elissa first came to the Guild around 2010, when her union was fighting an attempt to close library branches and cut union jobs. Since then, she’s served on the Labor Guild board and taught classes at Guild school a number of times. This is their first time teaching the Coalitions class together.
Fittingly, the first time Jenn and Elissa worked together was on a coalition campaign! During the same effort to save library branches that brought Elissa to the Guild, Jenn was working with Jobs with Justice, who joined together in a coalition with Local 1526. The campaign was ultimately successful, and when asked about it, Elissa said “I’m proud of the work we did and I continue to speak up at meetings and keep touch with our community partners so that we don’t ever have to fight that specific battle again!” She also said that their experience in that coalition is where this semester’s coalition class originated.
Jenn and Elissa are both excited to teach this course, because they see forming coalitions as a crucial tool for labor activism. Elissa said that it’s “important, especially in today’s current political climate, that individuals recognize the necessity of working together around a common theme to achieve success.” Speaking on today’s labor movement in particular, Elissa said:
We need to be better about explaining that our fight for workers’ rights is for all workers and not just organized labor and that a lot of what we organize around is just that. For example, a lot of unionized workplaces have paid sick leave. By joining with other organizations, labor stood up and fought for those individuals who are not organized and had to make a choice between going to work sick or not getting paid.
Jenn echoed this concern for coalitions in today’s movement, saying that with ongoing attacks on workers’ rights to organize, we simply “can’t go alone.”