JwJ Co-Director Smiley named first ‘Will Empower’ recipient for woman labor leaders
Erica Smily, center, is co-director of Jobs with Justice. | Cornell University ILR Scheinman Institute

WASHINGTON (PAI)—Erica Smiley, co-executive director of Jobs with Justice, was named the first “Will Empower” innovative woman fellowship winner by the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University and Rutgers University, which jointly run the initiative.

Smiley will use the university’s resources for her year-long fellowship “to concentrate on completing a book on a 21st-century framework for organizing and collective bargaining,” Will Empower added. Sarita Gupta, JWJ’s other executive director, is co-author.

The two will also “develop a culture change project that amplifies and distributes the book’s core ideas—including…anchoring collective bargaining as a fundamental aspect of a healthy democracy,” Will Empower said.

Smiley said the book and the project will “focus on the stories of working people actively struggling to re-define the theater in which they organize and collectively negotiate with employers, building owners, financiers, and others that keep working people from economic sustainability and a dignified life.”

That means, among others, workers who need to organize but “don’t necessarily identify with the labor movement, including a new generation of women workers.” Cornell University Press will publish the book next year.



Press Associates Union News Service provides national coverage of news affecting workers, including activism, politics, economics, legislation in Congress and actions by the White House, federal agencies and the courts that affect working people. Mark Gruenberg is Editor in chief and owner of Press Associates Union News Service, Washington, D.C.