Boston Workers Alliance (BWA) is a community organization led by unemployed and underemployed workers fighting for employment rights. We have united to end CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) discrimination and the crisis of joblessness in the community. We fight for social and economic justice by creating and demanding decent jobs for all people who want to work.
The ability to live productively and raise our families in peace is a right. As we walk towards our freedom, we build strength and hope through cooperation, political awareness and collective action. We organize to overcome the oppressive forces that oppose our full potential to live.
BWA was formed in September 22, 2005 at a large meeting of unemployed workers at the 12th Baptist Church in Roxbury. We agreed to unite for the uplift our community by building powerful collective challenges to the crisis of joblessness. Our first two priorities involved fighting CORI discrimination and forming a BWA temp agency.
In this organization, our members work to improve their job situations by developing the necessary skills and resources to find work. At the same time, it is clear that job training and business resumes are useless if no one is hiring. We recognize that unless we demand a societal change to have fair work for all, members of our community will be forced to compete, like crabs in a barrel, for fewer and lower-paying jobs. When we unite, we are fighting for more than a paycheck. We are fighting for jobs for our youth and stable work that we can raise our families on.
If you’re unemployed, working two jobs & still not making it, can’t get a job because of your CORI, or just sick & tired of being “sick & tired,” please join us-tell your story, fight for CORI reform and jobs.
The BWA has 5 sub committees: Outreach, CORI Reform, Job Creation, Legislative and Media. All active BWA members meet as a Planning Committee on the 1st Thursday of every month from 5pm-7pm at the BWA office, 411 Blue Hill Ave. A Steering Committee composed of representatives from the sub committees meet on the last Thursday of every month.
Hakim Cunningham, Director of Labor/ Human Rights Organizing
Hakim was born and raised in the streets of Boston and attended Boston Latin Academy in his youth. The product of a Jamaican immigrant father and a Native American mother from Florida, he grew up in a predominantly Caribbean neighborhood in the Dorchester Center area of Boston. As a young man in the early 90′s, Hakim grew up with a love for music eventually enrolling in North East Broadcasting School after high school. His life lead him to become a Muslim at the local Masjid Alhammdullilah in Boston. Hakim’s life changed when he met Imam Abdullah Faaruq . Hakim decided to turn his life around and redirected his focus to educating himself while studying Islam. As Hakim approached his religion with a greater vision of community control. He learned of the BWA and the organization’s serious work with CORI reform. After securing a job but then being fired because of his CORI, Hakim contacted the BWA and quickly became a member. Hakim was elected to the BWA Board in 2007 and was hired as BWA’s second staff person in January of 2009 to develop a non-profit store front social justice office in Grove Hall section of Dorchester. After 3.5 years he was promoted to Director of Organizing which he currently holds. Hakim was selected recently as a Green For All Fellow for his BWA Urban Gardening Project he is currently enrolled in college working on a BS in Social Science. He has worked with Haymarket People’s Fund as a New England Funding Panel Member, he was also elected to the Board of Directors of Grove Hall Main Streets in 2010.
Phillip Reason, Director of Organizing
As a member of (BWA) since 2008 Phillip has organized voter registration and “Get Out the Vote” (GOTV) in the Roxbury community thereby engaging the community in the electoral process. Prior to joining BWA, Phillip worked as a Campaign Manager and Director of Constituent Services for Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner, and for former Massachusetts State Senator Dianne Wilkerson. These experiences together with being a resident of Roxbury have given him a profound understanding of this diverse and dynamic neighborhood of Boston.
Samantha Akwei, Communications Associate (Micah Fellow)
Samantha Akwei is a native of Harlem, NY that shares a passion for spoken word poetry and social justice. Growing up in a large family, Ms. Akwei found solace in writing and performing poetry as it enabled her to discover her voice and advocate for those in need. After winning the Knicks Poetry Slam in 2005 and the Urban Word Poetry Slam in 2007, Ms. Akwei became inspired to continue to use her voice as a catalyst for change. Thus, in college she made it a priority to be actively involved in organizations like AmeriCorps, NAACP, Green For All and WeAct. Ms. Akwei was led to the Boston Workers Alliance through the Micah Fellows program that prepares young activist to become prayerful, prophetic leaders. She currently holds a B.A in English from Spelman College and is an active member of the 150th Block Association of Harlem, City Tabernacle Church and the Spelman Alumna Chapter of Boston.
The Board of the Boston Workers Alliance is democratically elected from within BWA’s Active Membership.
Tracy Parks, Board Chair
Joel Pierre, Clerk
Angela Yarde, Treasurer
Ben and Jerry Foundation, Lenny Zakim Fund, Burgess Urban Fund, Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Civic Engagement Initiative, Community Training and Assistance Center, Center for Economic Democracy, Herman and Frieda Miller Foundation, Hyams Foundation, MassUniting MassVote, Solidago Foundation,
Nuestra Community Development Corporation provides free office space to the Boston Staffing Alliance 2010-2011. Mass Global Action provides free web server hosting and technical assistance for data management consulting.
EPOCA (Ex-Prisoners and Prisoners Organizing for Community Advancement), MOAR (Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery), Right to the City Alliance, Right to the City VOTE, Community Labor United, Greater Boston Labor Council, SEIU 32BJ District 615, Rosie’s Place, New England Regional Council of Carpenters, International Action Center, Boston Teachers Union, City Life/Vida Urbana, Mass AFL-CIO, Chinese Progressive Association, New England United for Justice, Dorchester People for Peace, Coalition to Fund Our Communities/ Cut Military Spending 25%, Boston Carmen’s Union (ATU Local 589), Painters DC 35, UNITE HERE Local 26
Boston Peoples Power Assembly Endorsers
Bishop Filipe Teixeira, OFSJC, Diocese of St Francis of Assisi, CCA, Brockton, MA
Rev. Luis Barrios, IFCO/Pastors for Peace
Alberto Lovera Bolivarian Center Boston
Rhode Island People’s Assembly
Ed Childs, Chief Shop Steward, UNITE-HERE L. 26, Boston, MA
Rep. Cynthia McKinney, 2008 Green Party Prez Candidate
Rev. C.D. Witherspoon, Brd. Chair Baltimore SCLC
Chris Silvera, Secty. Treas., Teamsters L. 808
Steve Gillis, Vice President, USW L. 8751 Boston School Bus Union
Clarence Thomas, Int’l Longshore & Warehouse Union L. 10*
Steve Kirschbaum, USW Organizer & Chair, Grievance Committee, USW L. 8751
Brian Shea, Disability Rights Activist, Boston, MA
Gerry Scoppettuolo. ACT UP Boston
Alberto Barreto Cardona, Activist for Puerto Rican Liberation
Women’s Fightback Network, Boston
Sharon Black, Baltimore Peoples Assembly
Victor Toro, La Peña del Bronx
Larry Holmes, Occupy for Jobs
Bryan Perlmutter, NC State Univ., SDS
Walter Smith, Pres., Nat’l Postal Mail Handlers Union, L. 334 Charleston, SC
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