Eager to share their knowledge with underserved groups, including those entering or re-entering the workforce, members of the Labor and Employment Law Section Council decided to conduct a pilot training program called “Your Rights and Responsibilities on the Job.” MBA Labor & Employment Section Pro Bono Coordinators Bryan Decker and Rosemary Pye planned and implemented the pilot program.
The Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts provided a perfect opportunity to test the program. ULEM President and CEO Darnell Williams’ practical philosophy of coaching ULEM trainees about their responsibilities, as well as their rights, coincides with the section’s goals. ULEM already has an established training program for adults that features outside speakers.
This program, the Employment and Professional Skills Training, is an intensive six-week training program which is conducted six times a year. Because there is a second Urban League office in Springfield, the pilot could readily be expanded to take advantage of L&E Section members from Western Massachusetts who want to teach in the program.
On Dec. 3, Decker and Pye, with the help of the teacher, Abdul-Jalil Danfodio, conducted the EPST class of about 15 ULEM students. The two-hour session covered rights and responsibilities in the application procedure, rules of conduct and dress, schedules, leave of all types, anti-discrimination laws, union representation, unemployment compensation and workers’ compensation.
The class was engaged, and the experienced workers had many questions and anecdotes, which focused the material on practical concerns.
The class also stressed that while it is important to know one’s rights, prudent employees try problem solving as the first step. The students showed a real eagerness to be effective, responsible employees.