Rights Without Borders

June 14, 2018

MassCOSH is proud to announce Youth Coordinator Jenny Fernandez’s leadership role in helping to launch the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) new Sexual Harassment Action Network (SHAN). On June 11 and 12, Fernandez, MassCOSH Worker Center’s Erika Sanchez, and MassCOSH Women’s Committee leader Beatriz Yañez traveled to Arlington, Virginia to participate the first convening of SHAN.

With coast to coast participation, SHAN brings together labor and community activists to champion campaigns against workplace harassment and abuse, create a clearinghouse of policy, contract language and educational resources, and promote the leadership development of low-wage workers in the movement. At the gathering, participants learned from each other through workshops, skits, and panels. Fernandez offered a workshop on a trauma informed responses to sexual assault disclosures, a TL@W-created training made possible with support from the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center.

Working with diverse partners such as the Coalition of Labor Union Women, Futures without Violence, Healing to Action, UIC Chicago, UC Berkeley, United Way, and A Better Balance, SHAN promises to be a powerful tool in the fight for harassment-free workplaces. Fernandez will bring her specific expertise in training young people to train their peers on how to identify and stop sexual harassment on the job.

Long before the #MeToo movement, TL@W created and refined a workplace harassment curriculum made by young workers for young workers. With awareness of workplace sexual harassment higher than ever, TL@W’s sexual harassment training is now its most requested service.

“A lot of the research on sexual harassment is outdated and a lot of times, the harassment itself goes unreported by workers,” responds Fernandez when asked why this may be. “Many young workers are not educated on what is considered sexual harassment. Even though they experience it on a daily basis, at school, and on social media, it’s not talked about. They’ve become desensitized.”

Last year, almost 600 young people received TL@W’s training. This past April, students at Fenway High School took part in a three-day, in-depth sexual harassment train-the-trainer project that received rave reviews by school staff. This coming summer, TL@W will also begin to survey young workers on their experiences with workplace harassment as well as focus on the need to educate young men on the roles they can play in helping end workplace harassment.

Results of these trainings and interviews will be shared with SHAN to further efforts to protect low-wage, young, and disadvantaged workers across the nation, ensuring the movement to end harassment benefits all workers, regardless of their age, immigration status, income, or state of residence.