More good news for AFGE members.
AFGE and Morehouse College, the alma mater of several civil rights leaders including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., are in the process of designing an education program that will be part of the union’s P.O.R.T. Leadership Academy – annual training that brings together hundreds of activists to advance their skills in political action, organizing, representation, and training.
At AFGE’s convention in Orlando last month, Morehouse representatives were there to introduce themselves to AFGE members.
“We initially had this conversation with President Kelley. He expressed his great interest in partnering with historically black colleges like Morehouse to really expand the opportunity for AFGE members to do more in terms of labor studies,” said Marc Bayard of the Morehouse’s International Comparative Labor Studies program. “And Morehouse has been working on building our labor studies program since about 2017 and I think so there is a great opportunity for our two organizations to come together and creatively think about some of the best and innovative ways that we can help workers and really increase the education of workers.”
“We’re kind of in a very early stage of figuring out what the times and requirements look like. We already have courses and materials, but obviously we’re not sure what Morehouse would require to say okay they need our level of accreditation for completion,” said AFGE Field Services and Education Department Director Marlin Jenkins.
From the few days he was at the AFGE convention, Bayard said he could tell AFGE members were interested in pursuing more education.
“The hunger for expanded and continuing education, the hunger for accredited education is definitely strong and loud in the short time we’ve been here.”
Unions’ interest in deeper conversations about racial justice
AFGE is one of the unions that have reached out to Morehouse for partnerships in racial justice and diversity programs since the college opened up the door for its labor studies program headed by Dr. Cynthia Hewitt.
Building trade unions, public sector unions, and private sector unions have shown interest in leadership development and deeper conversations about racial justice and diversity of their membership.
“We’ve seen a huge uptake now going 2 years after the murder of George Floyd. A lot of unions looked internally and realized they needed to expand around diversity issues,” explained Bayard. “They needed to expand to really reach more Black and Brown members and Morehouse, being both a historically black college and being in the south, I think we’re at the epicenter of a lot of these conversations.”
“It’s really enhanced our ability to understand the need of the labor movement today particularly in the South when we talk about Right to Work states, when we talk about low union intensity,” he added. “We really see ourselves as a resource for the labor movement in the South.”