“Fighting for good jobs benefits all of us. Slowly but surely people are starting to understand that when one of us benefits, we all benefit.” So says Angelica Clarke, executive director of the Albany Social Justice Center, and winner of this year’s Edna Award from the Berger-Marks Foundation. Clarke has brought together a coalition of labor and community groups to form a hub at the Center in Albany, NY, where she fosters new organizing efforts that cross cultural, class, and racial boundaries.
A willingness to grapple with ingrained prejudices and confront the attitudes that hold organizing back is a common thread that can be found in each of the stories of this year’s Edna and Kate Mullany Award winners. Berger-Marks Foundation Trustees proudly handed out the awards at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on February 9.
Each Kate Mullany Award winner persisted in organizing their workplaces and their communities in the face of harassment and pushback from their employers and from the public. Jessica Ellul organized her fellow medical workers in Connecticut with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Angela Melvin led a unionization drive with the Communication Workers of America (CWA) at a call center for T-Mobile in Wichita, KS. And Allysha Shin led an organizing drive with the National Nurses United (NNU) at Huntington Hospital in California.
The Edna Awards of Distinction went to two community organizers: Cathy Dang, Executive Director of New York City’s CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities; and Jessica Carmona Cabrera, the Central California Regional Coordinator for the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance. Dang has worked to build bridges between Black, Brown, and Asian communities in fighting police brutality and other issues; while Carmona Cabrera has fought bravely alongside other immigrant youth to raise public awareness of the need for policies that support immigrant communities.
We at the Berger-Marks Foundation are proud to honor the work of these persistent young women. As we move into our next phase of shifting the primary work of the Foundation on to the wonderful folks at the Center for Innovation in Worker Organization at Rutgers University and the Kalmanovitz Institute at Georgetown University, we are pleased to announce that the Foundation has dedicated a portion of our remaining funds to ensure that these awards continue.