Friends and Supporters,
three decades, the Consortium for Worker Education has dedicated
itself to the development of New York's workforce. Through
partnerships with unions and community organizations, CWE provides
education, training, and job placement for tens of thousands of
workers every year. Please read on for the latest news from the
Consortium for Worker Education.
CWE Celebrates 30th
year, the Consortium for Worker Education celebrates thirty years
of providing worker-centered job training and education for the New
Under the leadership of Joe McDermott, then of Teamsters Local 237,
and Barry Feinstein, President of Local 237, CWE opened its doors
in 1985 and served 3,000 workers from six founding unions:
Teamsters Joint Council 16, Hotel and Restaurant Employees, Local
1199, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, AFSCME
District Council 1707, and United Auto Workers District 65.
McDermott, CWE’s Executive Director, says that there were three
principles behind CWE’s programs. “First, each union runs its own
program. Second, the programs are free. Last, we will work
The premise that workers have a right to their own education and
training system, and that their unions know best what skills are
needed in their industries, ran counter to the prevailing
educational philosophy of the time. “It was not just a program,”
McDermott says, “but a formal commentary on worker rights.”
CWE grew year after year, and evolved with the changing needs of
workers. In 1992, the New York State legislature created a funding
stream for CWE’s programs. Through a grant from the federal
government, CWE was also able to expand its services to assist
unemployed, underemployed, and dislocated workers, as the operator
of Worker Career Centers in each borough.
The terror attacks of 9/11 proved pivotal for CWE. The Consortium
was responsible for managing government programs to provide
services to impacted businesses and workers in the wake of the
attacks. It was through this program that CWE’s ever-growing
network of unions first developed strong relationships with
community organizations who shared their goals of helping workers
develop skills and empower themselves.
By 2005, these relationships had coalesced into a network of
community-based organizations that was the foundation of Worker
Service Centers and Jobs to Build On, CWE’s job training and job
placement programs for unemployed New Yorkers, funded by the City Council.
CWE saw a milestone year in 2015. Beyond celebrating its 30th
anniversary, the organization expanded into new training facilities
in Lower Manhattan and announced its 15,000th job placement
in the Jobs to Build On program. Now serving about 80,000 workers
annually between its union programs and programs for the
unemployed, CWE’s impact is felt throughout the city.
The CWE staff still sees much work ahead. Low-wage jobs sell workers
short by dismissing their ability to improve their skills and grow
their own capacity. Over the past 30 years, CWE has learned
how to be an advocate and resource for workers who want to upgrade
their skills. As the pace of change in workplaces increases,
workers need their own training institution more than ever.
Partner Profile: Argus
sincerely believe that everyone is capable of greatness.”
That sentiment is the driving force behind Argus Community, an organization
that provides innovative programs to help severely disadvantaged
teens and adults to free themselves from poverty and drug abuse.
Those living on the fringes of society will find in Argus a
drug-free, safe, and nurturing environment where they can build new
lives based on work, hope, and responsibility. According to
Jennifer Kaminsky, Executive Oversight Director for Operations,
Argus has 15 different programs, including residential and
vocational offerings, which prepare individuals for success in the
workplace and society.
Most recently, a grant from the Consortium for Worker Education
through the Jobs to Build On program has enhanced the Argus Career
Training Institute (ACTI). Argus is now able to train more
participants to become substance abuse counselors and achieve their
goal of becoming certified as Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance
Abuse Counselor Trainee (CASAC-T).
Students undertake 350 hours of classroom training and 50 hours of
clinical group experience. Over 1,600 participants have been
certified over the life of the program. Currently, 50 students are
enrolled. Since 1992, 90% of ACTI graduates have been hired in
full-time jobs with benefits. Currently, the annual starting
salaries for graduates averages $28,000.
Many Argus Community students have experienced addiction themselves
or were formerly incarcerated. While these backgrounds can be
barriers to employment, Kaminsky says that ACTI trainees bring
their personal experiences and insights to counseling, and that
this can help them excel in the workplace.
The ACTI program at Argus Community is doing more than training
substance abuse counselors. It is giving graduates a sense of purpose and direction, through one of
society’s most measurable outcomes, employment, and unlimited
opportunity for career advancement.
Participant Profile: Charise
Brody completed Argus Community’s CASAC-T certification program six
months ago and is working as an outreach health worker, a job she
“A lot of people need help and don’t know how to get it,” Charise
The life-long Brooklynite says that the training program was more
than she had bargained for. “It was really intense. I didn’t expect
them to ask personal things about me, things I would have been
afraid to admit about myself.”
But she came to learn that self-reflection was central to the Argus
Community program. She needed to understand herself before she
could help others.
As an outreach health worker, Charise is putting her counseling
training to good use. She visits the homes of patients with chronic
health conditions, encourages them, and helps them manage their
treatment by accessing the government services they need.
When asked what advice she has for others who have made mistakes
but want to move forward with their lives, Charise says, “If you
cannot make a new beginning, you can make a new ending. It is not
over because Argus Community is there.”