Dear Friends and Supporters,

For 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 Anniversary year, the Consortium for Worker Education celebrates thirty years of providing worker-centered job training and education for the New York workforce.
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 together.”
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 Community"We 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 Brody completed Argus Community’s CASAC-T certification program six months ago and is working as an outreach health worker, a job she loves.

“A lot of people need help and don’t know how to get it,” Charise says.

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.”