Los Angeles Local 11 helped a couple hundred workers at Kinkisharyo International win a voice on the job in 2014. It was one of the first Japanese-owned manufacturing companies to be organized in the United States.
Now, Local 11 is asking IBEW members from across the country to help continue that work, by voting for Jobs to Move America’s Modern Rosies Project as it pursues a $100,000 grant from the Goldhirsh Foundation, a Los Angeles-based charitable organization that supports groups and individuals committed to improving the community.
“The idea is simple: Create equality in the workplace,” said International Representative for Membership Development Jerry Kurimski. “You do this by addressing issues such as wage discrimination and sexual harassment. The group responsible for the Modern Day Rosies know that the best way of achieving this is by having a union in the workplace.”
Jobs to Move America works with several unions, including the IBEW, to improve the lives of public-transportation workers in manufacturing jobs and is looking to expand opportunities for women with its Modern Rosies project. If it wins the vote, it will use the money to hire another staffer that will focus on organizing woman workers.
Vote at this link. You will be prompted to register for Good, an online magazine that promotes community projects. The process take a couple minutes, but there is no charge. Voting ends on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
“People in many different age ranges are trying to figure out how to build a career,” said Uyen Phuoc Le, Local 11’s compliance and outreach representative. “Not just for the next few years, but to build a foundation for a family. Often times, women have these responsibilities and worries.”
“To have this commitment of long-term resources to propel these women into leadership positions is such an important part of this,” Phuoc Le said.
Jobs to Move America is a national organization of about 30 unions, faith groups and community organizations that tries to use U.S. public transportation systems to improve jobs, the environment and opportunities for lower income workers.
Local 11 is currently in contract negotiations with Kinkisharyo, a builder of light-rail passenger cars, which has contracts with American mass transit systems in Los Angeles, Boston, Dallas, Seattle, Phoenix and San Jose.
Earlier this year, Jobs to Move America unveiled its Modern Rosie’s Campaign, based on legendary character Rosie the Riveter, who represented female workers taking on traditional male-dominated factory jobs during World War II. Today’s Rosie is designed to highlight female workers in the transportation industry and provide more opportunities and protections for those wanting to enter it.
Jobs to Move America Director Madeline Janis said the best way to do that is with union representation.
“It’s still fundamentally about unions and collective bargaining,” she said.
Jobs to Move America reports that about $5.4 billion is spent annually on public transportation projects, a number that should increase as local and federal government eyes infrastructure improvements. Janis credited Local 11 business manager Marvin Kropke for being an enthusiastic supporter of Jobs to Move America since it was launched in 2011.
“We’ve seen that women are some of our strongest leaders, but they’re very underrepresented at manufacturing plants,” Janis said. “They have a lot of challenges with unfair treatment and sexual harassment. We want to bring on another organizer so we can expand this and bring in more women.”
The Modern Rosies project included a photo exhibit of 12 women labor leader and manufacturing workers by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Deanne Fitzmaurice. It was on display at Los Angeles’ Union Station earlier and Janis said there are plans are for it to be shown in New York next year. You can see the photos here.