Nearly 50 people—40 of them with criminal records—attended a workshop earlier this week to help ex-offenders overcome barriers to employment . With politically charged rap pulsing in the background, they heard a presentation by Legal Aid lawyer Peter Sabonis and United Workers organizer Todd Cherkis.
“I explained the presentation by saying, ‘Lawyers talk about arguments, organizers talk about power,’” Sabonis said. “’Tonight we are going to talk about both, and try to come up with a strategy to change things.’”
The group was relaxed, engaging, energetic. “The presentations were not typical, but involved questions for discussion: ‘What question do you see on employer applications about criminal histories? How do you answer it? Why do employers discriminate against those with criminal records? Whose interests does it serve?’” Sabonis said “United Worker members were in the audience and able to share stories about their successful campaign at Camden Yards to increase wages, better working conditions, and overcome discrimination based on criminal histories.”
The group will meet again in two weeks.