This summer, the KI was grateful to have Logan Arkema (COL ’20) with us as our summer research intern. Logan is double majoring in Computer Science and Government, with a focus on information security and privacy. Originally from Michigan, Logan got involved in the labor movement through his mom, a public school teacher and proud member of the Kent County Education Association. On campus, he is involved with Georgetown Solidarity Committee and GUSA’s Student Workers Affairs Team. He was a participant on our Worker Justice DC spring break trip this past spring, and is looking forward to help lead the trip this coming spring break.
The Kalmanovitz Initiative was delighted to have these five awesome students with our Summer Organizing Internship! Mizraim Belman Guerrero organized with Restaurant Opportunities Center – DC (ROC-DC), Taylor Davis built power with ONE DC, Chris Dunn worked with DC Jobs with Justice, MacKenzie Foy organized with Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS), and Mariel Méndez worked at ONE DC while continuing with Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC).
Mizraim Belman Guerrero
Mizraim Belman Guerrero (SFS ’20) is majoring in Culture and Politics with a concentration on immigration. He is originally from Mexico but grew up in Austin, Texas where he began to develop a passion for immigrant rights and social justice. While in Austin, he was able to take up local deportation cases and bring up undocumented immigrant issues to President Obama through organizations like the University Leadership Initiative. While at Georgetown he has been involved in the Georgetown Solidarity Committee, UndocuHoyas, Hoyas for Immigrant Rights, Hoya Saxa Weekend, and First Year Orientation through community involvement (FOCI).
Taylor Davis (NHS ’20) is a rising junior from Richmond, VA studying Healthcare Management and Policy on the Policy track with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. Their studies attempt to build a bridge between the public health community and radical/intersectional movements for justice, deconstructing our deference to a healthcare field that marginalizes those whose bodies, lifestyles, and identities aren’t deemed normative. This summer she had the pleasure of working with ONE DC, engaging in outreach with DC community members on subjects of housing/displacement, access to jobs, and equitable community development, all of which are integral components of one’s holistic wellness. She is excited to continue building power with the people of the District and to bring more of her peers along with her. In their spare time, Taylor enjoys watching trash reality television, taking up a new hobby every week (but never mastering it), and eating their body weight in spinach/kale or other leafy greens.
Chris Dunn (SFS ’19) is a rising senior in the SFS where he studies American foreign policy and history. Originally from outside of Philadelphia, he worked this summer with DC Jobs With Justice, a coalition of labor unions and their allies in the city. While with DC JWJ Chris worked on the Initiative 77 campaign to raise the tipped minimum wage in DC and worked with the Washington Teachers Union. He is passionate about labor rights and had an awesome with DC JWJ. On campus, Chris is a writer and editor for the Georgetown Voice, the student-run campus news magazine, and is a member of the men’s ultimate frisbee team.
MacKenzie River Foy
MacKenzie River Foy (COL ’19) is a rising senior from Teaneck, New Jersey majoring in American Studies and minoring in Film and Media Studies. This summer she worked with Collective Action for Safe Spaces on their advocacy team, navigating the intersections among public safety, transformative justice, and accountability. During her time there, MacKenzie conducted research on the needs of the QTBIPOC community in DC, provided program support for the Safe Bar Collective Employment Training program, and organized CASS’ policy platform launch. She looks forward to continuing to work with CASS while exploring her interests in land justice, liberation for queer and trans folks of color, and using digital media to envision Black futures full of life and joy.
Mariel Méndez is a sophomore majoring in history with hopes of concentrating in labor history. Originally from Guanajuato, México, she has grown up undocumented in a working-class neighborhood in Los Angeles. In high school she joined the struggle against corruption in her school district and became involved in local politics. Now she hopes to continue to build power with workers and working-class people at Georgetown and in DC through the Georgetown Solidarity Committee (GSC), the KI, and radical DC groups. This summer she interned with ONE DC and was involved in projects in the Black Workers and Wellness Center and the Co-Familia childcare worker cooperative. She also continued her involvement from the last school year into this summer with LEDC and its tenant organizers, helping fight gentrification and build tenant power in DC.
KI is now accepting applications for its paid, part-time internship programs for the Fall open to Georgetown undergraduate students.
Each semester, KI recruits Georgetown students who are dedicated to social justice to work with top local community groups in D.C. advocating for working people through its Organizing Internship and Research in Action Internship. KI also hires student coordinators for its Immigration and Labor Project to work on issues that affect immigrant workers.
The Organizing Internship provides an opportunity for students to observe the impact of community and labor organizing, support and contribute to ongoing campaigns and projects, and develop their own organizing skills. Open placements for the Organizing Internship this semester include:
- Many Languages One Voice (MLOV)
- Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC)
- The Washington Lawyers Committee’s Worker Rights Clinic (WLC)
Meanwhile, the Research in Action Internship provides students the opportunity to learn from leaders in the world of workers’ rights, support and contribute to ongoing campaigns and research projects, and develop their own research skills. Our open placements for the Research in Action Internship are:
Lastly, our Immigration and Labor Project plugs students into the efforts of community-based organizations to advance economic and social justice for immigrant communities in the DC area and nationwide. This semester we are hiring two additional coordinators to lead the project.
Please submit your application and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday, August 21 at 11:59pm. For more information or any questions, reach out to Alex Taliadoros at 202-687-2951 or Alex.Taliadoros@georgetown.edu.
KI’s incoming Program Manager Juan Belman will transition into overseeing our student programs as the semester begins.
In the wake of the Great Recession, many analysists have come to praise current unemployment statistics, but unemployment numbers do not represent underemployment. In this week’s Working-Class Perspectives, Michelle M Tokarczyk argues for the creation of a federal jobs program designed to place recent college graduates, especially graduates from working-class communities, into jobs that reflect their education.
When I graduated college in 1975, the U.S. was in the midst of a recession, and New York City was on the verge of bankruptcy. As a student, I’d commuted to Herbert Lehman College in the Bronx from my parents’ house, and I was eager to support myself and get experience in teaching or writing. While I came close to landing a position that fit my background in English and sociology, I lost to another candidate and never found a good job. Then the Comprehensive Education and Training Act (CETA), which had been signed into law by President Nixon in 1973, enacted a new provision that created jobs in the CUNY system (which served primarily working-class and first-generation students). Lehman College hired approximately 50 college graduates from around the state, including me. It was the equivalent of a WPA for the college-educated.
I’d worked since I was 17, but working full-time in a reading center was my first full-time professional job. I learned how to ask questions and give input rather than just follow directions. I learned how to evaluate students’ needs. . And I was paid a living wage with benefits that allowed me to move out of my parents’ house. After one year, I resigned from my CETA position, and the program itself expired after a couple of more years. But it helped me develop professional skills, and it convinced me that I really wanted to become a college professor – and that’s what I did.
In my work today, I see the challenges my students face after graduation. While some have landed jobs in their fields, others have faced long periods of unemployment and even longer periods of underemployment, the all-too-familiar story of post-recession young people. But unlike in the 1970s, there are no government programs designed to address their needs. And this is especially important for graduates from working-class families. Their degrees don’t neutralize class privilege. While the data on underemployment and wage gaps tends to focus on black graduates and women, often ignoring class as a category, graduates from working-class backgrounds – across races and genders – encounter significant economic challenges.
Some lack the social capital that opens professional doors for many more privileged graduates. Hard work is often not enough; networking is likely more effective than sending resumes to monster.com. Working-class students did not grow up among professionals, so they may be uncomfortable in interviews or at recruiting events. And they might not feel comfortable with – or have access to — professional style. The only white-collar workers I knew were secretaries, and I didn’t realize that by dressing like them I was presenting myself as less than professional.
Even more important, working-class people enter the workforce with economic constraints. Like their middle-class peers, many of them have taken out hefty student loans, but most working-class families do not have the savings to support an unemployed adult. Working-class graduates may need to contribute to the family income. So they are unable to take unpaid internships that might boost their prospects or hold out for the right position. They take jobs for which they are overqualified, joining the ranks of the underemployed. For many, the inability to find appropriate work confirms their fears of being found out as imposters. Working-class graduates who are gender non-conforming, people of color, or people with disabilities face double or triple jeopardy.
Now that the unemployment rate is down to 3.9%, pundits are optimistic that struggling young people will be able to get jobs. What’s less clear is whether those jobs will pay living wages. First, while the Great Recession officially ended in 2009, the labor market remains weak. If good jobs open up, those who are underemployed face competition from recent graduates who are, in employers’ view, untainted by years of service work. Further, studies show that wages are likely to remain depressed for 10 to 15 years. The young person who is fortunate enough to get a position that matches their education will still have to contend with wages that have not risen with the supposed increase in labor demand. Some have argued that real wages — a measure of pay that factors in inflation — have in face declined for workers in many industries.
Low wages and underemployment will have long term effects, but the government has done nothing to intervene. The CETA Program was approved and implemented under a Republican president in an era when American people across party lines still believed that government could make a difference, that it could and should intervene to buffer the effects of economic crises. No such legislation was proposed during the Great Recession, even after Barack Obama took office.
Instead of helping working people, today’s Republican administration is proposing cuts or restructuring (another name for cuts) to many programs such as Medicaid and SNAP benefits. It has also tried and failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but it has undercut the program in several ways. Critics of these programs claim that they don’t work. But they do, as my experience shows. Along with participating in CETA, I got food stamps as a graduate student and during a period of unemployment—in total less than 18 months. I was under a lot of stress during those times, but at least I didn’t have to worry about feeding myself. I’m now on Medicare, which is much cheaper and much more efficient than any private insurance I had in over 40 years. Meanwhile, even though Trump denigrates federal programs, he quickly offered 12 billion dollars of relief to farmers hurt by his tariff policies. Even he recognizes that the federal government can soften economic blows.
The challenge is to create programs that serve the working class across the country – in all regions and regardless of race, gender, sexuality, or dis/ability. Some candidates and legislators are now advocating progressive measures such as free college tuition, Medicare for all, and student loan forgiveness. But no one has proposed a 21st century jobs program for the unemployed and underemployed. Our current Congress would not be sympathetic to such a proposal, but progressives should push the idea anyway.
The millennials who graduated in the years following the Great Recession have been called unlucky. Instead of blaming luck or lack of effort, we should examine the role of the federal government. It is time to revive our national memory of how job programs can address unemployment and underemployment, including jobs that don’t pay living wages. We need to remind people that living wages, benefits, and relevant job experience provide a strong foundation for workers and the national economy.
The Working-Class Perspectives blog is brought to you by our Visiting Scholar for the 2015-18 academic years, John Russo, and English Professor and Director of the American Studies Program at Georgetown University, Sherry Linkon. It features several regular and guest contributors. Last year, the blog published 43 posts that were read over 131,000 times by readers in 178 countries. The blog is cited by journalists from around the world, and discussed in courses in high schools and colleges worldwide.
The position of Program Manager, which was previously held by Nick Wertsch, involves managing KI’s robust student programs and serving as the KI liaison with the broader DC community.
Juan is a first-generation and DACAmented graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where he organized for five years in support of immigrant students and community members. Juan joins us from the Workers Defense Project, where he helped build a coalition of legal service providers in Central Texas.
“We are delighted to welcome Juan Belmán to Georgetown and the KI team,” said KI executive director Joe McCartin. “Juan brings a unique set of skills developed in his work on immigrant and labor rights issues as both a student activist and as a staff member for the Workers Defense Project, the largest worker center in Texas. His presence will allow KI to devote more attention to some of the most urgent issues of social justice that this country now faces.”
For the first time in KI’s history, a panel of current students participated in the hiring process. We are grateful for the time and thoughtfulness they dedicated to the candidate interviews.
“I am in awe of the opportunity to join the KI team,” shared Juan. “I look forward to meeting the Georgetown community and will work to make a positive difference on and off campus.”
Juan will begin his career at the KI on Monday, August 13.
Please join us in making him feel welcome at the Hilltop and the broader DC community.