Teens Lead @ Work
Youth Workplace Justice Program
In our Teens Lead @Work initiative, teen workers are hired and trained to support and educate other youth workers on workplace rights. The Youth Workplace Justice Program provides training to workers ages 16-24 on: 1) Workplace Safety (Infectious Disease & The Right to a Violence-Free Workplace/Anti-Bullying); 2) Sexual Harassment; 3) Racial, Ethnic, and Gender Identity Discrimination.
The goals of the Youth Workplace Justice Program are fourfold: First, we will seek to educate current and prospective youth workers on their rights for safety and justice in the workplace. Second, we will empower and train them to proactively create more just and safe workplaces. Third, we will seek to instill in Peer Leaders a lifelong commitment to workplace justice. And fourth, we will encourage those not employed to enter the workforce by letting them know about protections and rights to which they are entitled. Youth have always been integrated into the workforce at lower rates than other groups. In Tompkins County, for example, youth aged 16-24 are unemployed at twice the rate of other working groups. Moreover, in Tompkins County, only one-third of youth aged 16-19 are in the workforce, and only one-half of youth 20-24 are in the workforce. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated this effect. While workers 25-54 have returned to work at pre-pandemic rates, workers 16-24 are participating in the workforce at rates significantly lower than before the pandemic. We seek to encourage youth workplace participation by providing workforce experience for teen leaders in the program, and also by training youth on the rights and protections which protect them to ensure a safe and just workplace.
Youth leaders currently work for MCOSH 2-6 hours per week in total. We seek to increase this to 15-20 hours in week total by hiring two more teen leaders and elevating one teen to a youth coordinator who will work 10 hours a week to develop the curriculum. We also seek to increase staff time dedicated to the project to provide appropriate supervision and mentorship, and develop partnerships for training.
Midstate COSH has teen trainers on staff that help organize workshops to educate young workers on issues of workplace safetyy. All of our trainings are free to employers and employees.