The annual Joseph S. Murphy Diversity in Labor Scholarship, Awards & Reception will take place May 25, 6-8:30pm at the CUNY Graduate Center, Elebash Recital Hall at 365 5th Ave, New York, NY 10016.
Join us as we introduce our 2017 scholarship recipients, who will commence their studies in the 2017-2018 academic year. We’ll also be honoring rising labor and community leaders whose efforts to win rights for under-represented workers have been marked by extraordinary dedication and commitment: Modesta Toribio of Make the Road and Kendall Fells of Fight for $15.
Modesta Toribio, Senior Organizer, Make the Road New York
Modesta Toribio is a Senior Organizer at Make the Road New York. In that capacity, she directs the organization’s Workplace Justice project, which organizes workers to fight against daily abuses they face on the job. In her work, Modesta advises workers about their rights on the job and mobilizes support for coalitional campaigns, including the Fight for $15 and movements against wage theft. Modesta started as an organizer with the WASH New York campaign, which sparked the fight to improve working conditions in the car wash industry throughout New York City. In June 2016, she helped workers in four New York and New Jersey car wash establishments win $1.6 million in a wage-theft law suit. Since then, her work has contributed to changing the lives of countless exploited workers. Modesta’s work has been recognized in the mainstream media, including The New York Times which celebrated her work with “carwasheros” in our community. Modesta holds a Degree in teaching from the Technological University of Santiago (UTESA) in the Dominican Republic. In addition to putting limitless hours into her work for social justice, Modesta Toribio is also raising two children.
Kendall Fells, National Organizing Director, Fight for $15
Kendall Fells is National Organizing Director of Fight for $15, the movement of fast-food, home care, child care and other underpaid workers fighting for $15 an hour and union rights. In 2012, Kendall trained a team of new community organizers who helped to mobilize the first-ever strike of fast-food workers, which took place in New York City. Months later, he helped to organize a second New York City strike, which brought twice as many workers onto the streets as the initial walkout. These two strikes ultimately sparked a broad movement for $15 an hour and union rights that has spread to 320 cities around the U.S. and 40 countries. That movement has been embraced by the Black Lives Matter movement as well as by unions around the country.
Fight for $15 has been extraordinarily successful in convincing voters, politicians, and corporations to raise pay. Since 2012, Fight for $15 has spurred wage hikes for 22 million underpaid workers, including more than 10 million who are on their way to $15 an hour. Kendall Fells has appeared as a spokesperson for Fight for $15 on numerous news outlets, including MSNBC, CBS News, and Fox News.
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