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Birmingham, October 8 – Erica Iheme, Southern Director at Jobs to Move America (JMA), has won the inaugural Game Changer Award by Women Innovating Labor Leadership (WILL) Empower, a group dedicated to training and nurturing the next generation of women labor leaders. 

The ceremony was held on Zoom and the award recognized Iheme for her transformative work in the South, where she is leading a coalition of community, faith and labor groups and fighting with workers on the ground, giving a voice to communities who are pivotal to ongoing conversations about economic transformation in the country. 

Born and raised in Alabama, Erica spent 17 years building unions as an organizer all over the United States. She worked in several industries including hospitals, the public sector, higher education, and homecare.  She is a graduate of Alabama A&M receiving both her Masters and Undergraduate degrees in Urban Planning from the university.  

In June 2020, Erica moved back to Birmingham to join JMA and build out the Southern program. Since starting, Erica’s team has led the creation of the Alabama Coalition for Community Benefits and a series of Alabama Worker Bill of Rights trainings. They are now organizing to win the first-ever national Community Benefits Agreement with bus maker New Flyer.  

In her speech, Erica expressed her gratitude to her family and community. “I’m just a Black girl from North Birmingham. To be recognized by the larger labor community, my peers, is a blessing. My mother and father raised us to build and take care of our community. To me, the work that I’ve done through my career empowering and mobilizing workers all across America has been a sacrifice that I was more than happy to make.”

If you are interested in learning more about Erica’s work with Jobs to Move America and the Southern Program, please attend the virtual Friendraising Event on November 4, 2021 at 6pm Central. 


Alaa Milbes 

About Jobs to Move America
Jobs to Move America is a strategic policy center that works to transform public spending and corporate behavior using a comprehensive approach that is rooted in racial and economic justice and community organizing. We seek to advance a fair and prosperous economy with good jobs and healthier communities for all.

About the 2021 Womxn’s Labor Leadership Symposium
The inaugural WILL Empower Womxn’s Labor Leadership Symposium was held virtually on September 30 and October 1. The symposium amplified the groundbreaking work that womxn leaders in the WILL Empower network and across worker justice movements are engaged in. Participants had the opportunity to connect and discuss important topics such as transformational leadership, leading in complex times, and innovative organizing strategies.

About the WILL Empower Program
The Will Empower Program is a national program, jointly housed at Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor in Washington, DC and Rutgers University’s Center for Innovation in Worker Organization in the School of Management and Labor Relations in New Jersey. It is the legacy project of the Berger-Marks Foundation.

Associated Resources

Alabama Team Fact Sheet

 Our coalition in Alabama and New Flyer, the largest electric bus manufacturer in North America, signed our Community Benefits Agreement on May 24, 2022. This is our first multi-state agreement, impacting New Flyer facilities in Anniston, AL and Ontario, CA. It supports the creation of robust manufacturing jobs through investments in workforce development and training …