Dan Swinney and Erika Swinney

Recorded February 25, 2016 Archived February 25, 2016 40:08 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: chi001576


Erika Swinney (39) and her father and boss Dan Swinney (71) discuss Dan's history as a community organizer and labor force activist, and how that led to his current work in manufacturing education. He started a manufacturing training school that Erika is now program director for.

Subject Log / Time Code

Dan was raised with a sense of social consciousness from his parents, his school was the first segregated school in Virginia.
D talks about college opening up his world, was introduced to folk music, the "Selma happened" and this led to his involvement with activism.
D became a part of the Labor Movement. At his first manufacturing job he organized the employees to petition their boss for a 25 cent raise--they signed their names in a circle so there was no indication of a leader--and it was successful.
D went into manufacturing and thought his trajectory was to be a labor union organizer and leader.
D lost his job in 1983. There was a wave of plant closings in the '80s and people were calling it the end of manufacturing. D started a org to research that question.
His group worked to save dying companies in Chicago. He came to the conclusion that manufacturing was viable.
Erika talks about going away to college and not understanding what her dad did.
In the 2000s D began to research education in manufacturing, found there was a huge gap. He started a high school to train kids for these jobs.
Erika describes going away to the Peace Corps after college, it was then that she became more curious about what her dad did. D describes this as a turning point in their relationship.
E came to work for Austin Polytechnical Academy, building the program from scratch.
E describes why she's stuck with the work, because it is "deeply profound."


  • Dan Swinney
  • Erika Swinney

Recording Location

Chicago Cultural Center

Venue / Recording Kit



StoryCorps uses Google Cloud Speech-to-Text and Natural Language API to provide machine-generated transcripts. Transcripts have not been checked for accuracy and may contain errors. Learn more about our FAQs through our Help Center or do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions.

00:02 My name is Eric is 2039 years old and today is February 25th 2016 and we are at the Chicago to Chicago Cultural Center and I am here talking to my father dance when he and boss dance Whitney. My name is I'm 71 years old today is the 25th of February and we're at the cultural center and I'm talking and having a dialogue with my daughter Erica, Sweeney.

00:32 So

00:35 So we're here to talk about Bridgeville. You you've had an amazing career. You've been an activist in organizer for in some shape or form for the last 45 years of your life. And then we also now we're together with the relation manufactory Renaissance, but I really wanted to take the time today to talk about. How did you get here? How did we end up here? And

01:02 Yeah Yeahs, how did you get here so I was

01:08 But how I got here, I just helped. I was just born into a family at just the right time in history that to me. So I had a fascinating life full of great influences in great opportunities and great challenges and try to make the most of it. I was raised by two parents about you or your grandparents. All of it dams 20, we're both good Democrats good Christians. They were products of a they both went to the actual University of Chicago School social Administration Graduate there. That's where they met and they had the name of the restore The Cutting Edge of the New Deal what size to study social work and then went and worked with it. It it it is about an Australian Washington and they had a very strong sense of fairness of community awareness and and sore engagement and leaving a strong life. And apparently I was just thinking about you. Think of this interview. They were very permissive these rude people who taught me how to live by modeling how an adult should function

02:08 Supposed to tell me what to do. I'm at grew up in the suburbs of Washington DC where they both work to know and housing and health and my background or backround wasn't particularly like political or prickly activist, but just fill this out virtues and Shore social Consciousness and fairness and Injustice as a kid I went to

02:36 Who turns out and it just was the sixties so as I went to high school or Junior High School in my school and 1959 Stratford junior high was the first school that was integrated in and in Virginia. Like I had no knowledge of what was going on in life. But all of a sudden one day, there's hundreds of policeman and a great deal of controversy and you'll for black students are integrating our school and all of a sudden my friends who are never discuss issues work. Now, there's derogatory in the references to what was going on in arguments about how do you respond to this and was going on for the first time I was asked would you marry a the n-word and I responded just into of the yes, you know, anybody was polarizing situation that I was with. My first experience is the kid. I made it a point and I wasn't right then be myself and I made a point to befriend the students in the school and to be but I was pardoned all my life.

03:30 My career path. I was going to be started out just want to be a veterinarian. I work for veterinarian for many years. And you know that was hoping to be my career path. I went to college in 1963 would that is my purpose when you're small school in Michigan Alma College and became enough to that point. I was pretty nondescript. I was young Pappy a c student or D student in high school not protected motivated about Alma College. I got introduced to folk music which is for the opening of a different world became so it'll actually alive study things and then all this happened and I buy a small campus I had friends were folk musicians but no African-American from Detroit and said we got to do something about what's going on in Selma and follow along and said sure we should do this and

04:19 We got together in a couple of us decided while we are absent take a petition from Alma College to Lansing Michigan and say that we are in support and we want federal troops or no the federal support for people to South and we thought nothing would happen to be two or three of us don't get involved in instead when we passed the house where I have a meeting to order people showed up the meeting crosses burned in the camp and Girard your knife in a fight between black and white students and the next morning 50 of a starter out to march to Lansing, Michigan and 15 Mile March and now it's bleeding when I have to disappear and we're Turn Around by the state police and I had lots of arguments and saying songs and was my introduction to the shore of the movement of the 60s and that's why things were that summer I just was curious about what was going on the south. And so I went to

05:07 Got a full-time job working in Atlanta Georgia that my whole intention going to Georgia was too and volunteering become active in the Civil Rights Movement. So I started I contacted the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee snake witches and just offered to lick stamps and had a car. I'd be a chauffeur or just whatever I can do to help to help so I start working on weekends and evenings in the snake office.

05:26 Now is really the start of Engagement

05:31 From that I ended up after being so far from weed organizer signed up taking over their project and Rural or outside Atlanta focus on school desegregation. Ironically after my experience at my high school had my first experience in jail in Southern Justice in the way. It worked in which we serve a life-changing experience and from then I swear decided by a different future than being a veterinarian and I transfer to University Wisconsin and became very active in the student movement of the 60s in Madison.

06:06 Madison I switch from veterinary medicine to history and it turns my own thinking studying history gave me confidence gave me a perspective that was had a broader range and just what was going on. And so it gave me confidence in the path that was choosing a path of activism in organizing the truck out what my career was going to be and I went talk to some of the social work school. And then where do you where can you use experiences? I've learned in the civil rights movement in working in social work and it said there's no school is going to teach you to be revolutionary. And so then I decided I'd rather go to graduate school going to production going to start working in Industry to become part of Labor movement, and that's where to add my adult croup again.

06:50 Wow, so so going from

06:55 Virginia to

06:59 To Michigan down to Selma back to Wisconsin and you made a decision upon graduation to go into labor movement. So so, where did you how did you get to Chicago?

07:12 Ricer Chrysler. I left Madison. I moved to treat to Waukegan and it was the intent of going to work and going to work in production and you being part of working people and what their life was like until I started working in, you know several factories in Waukegan North Chicago area and got my first taste for a company. I work at a small company called Reliance Universal me paint. It was an onion shop. I was making 225 an hour and it would just not too much money. And at one point I helped organize my first action. We all signed a petition and we signed it in a circle so we couldn't the the boss can tell who signed the petition first and identify the leadership and we ask for a 25-cent raise and walked into the office with our petition. What about new at 10:15 workers and got our 20% raise knows my first labor experience and then I actually have for a couple years and I've been working there in the number of factors. I moved to Chicago in 1979 to tell me one and spin.

08:12 Yeah, the next thirteen years as a machinist in Soviet independent Union organizer. I worked at Sunbeam on the westside of all my workers on the west side of Chicago on Roosevelt Road between Cicero in Austin and I work till Sunday and I tried to organize even in there and got fired and you miss all my mistakes. So I went to labor board case and bought a new car with my settlement and got married and then work in another place and I spent Neo 7 years working at a company called Taylor Forge in Cicero on 14th and Cicero where I was successful in organized worker local of the steelworkers union and was that

08:49 And you so I know you and Mom lived on the west side of Chicago for a while like so like when were you there is where where did that fit in the work that you were doing when you're living on the west side, and that's my first memories is living in growing up in Humboldt Park Chicago and and but then I start working in industry and I met your mom and when I was working I move from Maywood into Chicago and Austin Community on Chicago's West Side to a little flat above a bar at Parkside in Chicago and I Met Your Mother and we dated and she's a graduate of Elmhurst College.

09:38 We then she moved in and then one night. I mean is that point and Chicago Avenue is dividing line between blacks and whites. And we lived by hillbilly bar. That was singing The Stylistics. Are those the floor every morning enough one week. We had I think shootings outside of the apartment like three nights in one week. And then we move to a safer to community Humboldt Park during that time. I was young I used to travel to but I was working industry. Sorry. I needed by public transportation by car. I drive to the the west side down on Retail Road and work. We got so it at when we lived on Parkside, we got married. We got married a third Unitarian Church in Austin and then later on move in Humboldt Humboldt Park where you were and where you were born.

10:22 So, how did how did the renovation start how did manufacturer Renaissance start?

10:29 So I clean my own.

10:31 In my own company, so when I first went into manufacturing, I should have had a few of having a career path to be in labor without become an effective organizer and I began to work. Workers Union to help organize other plans. You thought there was a preacher George trajectory that I would simply go into new be hired by the steelworkers union or something or some equipment Union important to you at that time.

10:58 Like why did you pick that as sort of an industry or sector to route to really focus on I did have a very specific view. I just I thought working people if you're going to experience working in thousands of Rights Movement. My activism is student meant I was really focused on we needed a much better fair or just two or more more productive system and you know that I was sure I was interested in from the very beginning my search history. So encouraged that other way to look at things that we're going on is systemic problems, not simply I just hired to help poor people or help working people. So I went into manufacturing just knowing it's worth about three. Nice. If you're going to be involved in social change you needed to be involved with people who work and not just be a social service provider or not just be an advocate and that that was a world that I needed to understand and I was interested in production and I didn't I had some vague view about the labor movement. So it's really I think she's understanding. I think it's still right the Right View.

11:58 If you were going to be involved in societal change the system of change you need to be at the place of a production of wealth creation. Not just within the super structure of the government apparatus or Academia had no desire to be in Academia. When I got there I enjoyed it. I mean I was a machinist the work Android like organizing in that context. I enjoyed the labor movement until that's right. That was there. What happened in my situation was I had this vision of just have to be going on is labor movement life would continue as usual and but in the beginning of the light late 70s and early 80s, you can have the total crisis in manufacturing that caught Everybody by surprise and do I work next to Cicero. And also we have lots of clean clothes and some other way Austin Cicero itself lost 50% of jobs in six years all the major companies that were closing the steelworkers union leader of the local and in

12:58 Do not threats then pinyon thousand hundreds or thousands of people to getting laid off yet bargaining situations that were very complex were copies were asking for concessions and typically unions had no clue about how to respond to that demand whether they were it was something that could save their job or was this something if they're being taken advantage of

13:17 And then finally my company announced it was going to close and so I then so I my company close in 1983 and I lost my job and this is to be again, like the beginning of the way for plant closings in Chicago Chicago lost 3000 out 7000 companies in the 1980s were debating was this the end of manufacturing and piss clear was going on was huge and is having a huge impact and I shouldn't know the answer that question but I knew their hat should be an answer as an organizer. Is this a viable sector of these companies that you were we could in fact do something to keep them open or was there some kind of fundamental change that we should just walk away from Manufacturing in the car since I was going to be some kind different kind of society so actually create this organization was first Call the Midwife Center for labor research in 1983 and our purpose was to answer that question now is manufacturing dead or is there something we can do to save it? Because clearly the Lost manufacturing jobs was created in North poverty enormous insecurities.

14:16 It's all I start the organization then after I wrap it off a bottle of whiskey and Labor Day picnic and I was my first fundraising effort. I work for a year without any pay and a big and put together a team of people to focus on this issue. And as we formed and we are mostly for my labor leaders and Community leaders for the few academics from result University and elsewhere. We then it coincided with the election. Washington and I was partly Harold Washington campaign and held Washington has a mare was interested in Shoreham New approaches. And so we became an organization that work for the city and became strong the SWAT team that looked at companies in crisis and to look for options for the city and trying to say this company. So that's how it might work out started remember when I first so I was during this time. I know I was a little girl I could care less about what exactly was I was not focus on those kinds of issues at that time, but in retrospect know as I've become part of the work, you know, you've told

15:16 Incredible stories Alexa with some of those plants that that the company intervenes and are so we can talk about a little bit like what were some of the companies that you were working to help save manufacturing jobs and keeping keeping them in Chicago.

15:36 Your decision to go to if a company had announced to closing or their we're layoffs. Are there some kind of evidence that the company was in crisis. And again, we work for the city of Chicago for the Department development. But we also were called in by unions in community organizations in others no circumstances. And what we would do is simply go into a particular company and look at it and make the ascent try to make the assessment is this a company of the Bible or not is your problem the company that has that could be solved or not, you know as a way to and we did not produce scale as being able to analyze businesses, but we did it with a social through the lens of social interest because people are desperate, it was planning to close and people would sometimes even try to buy the company but the computer close anyhow, and it now so we try to help people having to tap you were informed you about how to respond to this but having said that we looked at some companies and I probably looked at

16:33 Scores of companies in Minnesota and East Coast West Coast and we had a product Beyond repair and we was useful for us to say this is not there's nothing we can do to stop this from closing and people need to move on and do the best I can in the transition.

16:54 But having said that we looked at your number major companies in Chicago like Stewart Warner on the on the over and Percy Avenue, which is yellow with a company that employs 1,800 people. It was we got called in by Union that was being asked for concessions. We look to the company and they were claiming a crisis and they're claiming that workers pay too much and work said to give up their wages and we looked at the company. We found a board of directors. How is average age 80 are there a company that had no debt? They're sitting on her like $229 in cash is clearly a company. That was just the owners were just getting really just tell it you really make a killing in the real estate value until we actually worked and worked with the union and with entrepreneurship try to offer to purchase the company I could have it was a copy that could have stayed open. We look at Brach candy company, which is a major company and prices during the 80s and it wouldn't Floyd some.

17:49 3037 other people on the westside of Chicago again, when we looked at the company was a company was really being destroyed by an owner who had every in interest in making more money by moving a company to Mexico or Argentina. So we work on behalf of the Union to try to go to say that company manufacturing I think about large companies but 90% of manufacturing companies have less than a hundred employees and we began to find a company for closing because you had an agent owner and we found out that and Manufacturing like 99% of companies are owned by whites and sew a pattern of being a guy would start a company in Humboldt Park after the Korean War and change and see if it came out they move to the suburbs and it's now time to retire and there's nobody in my family to buy the company and so the company would close and so we we found a company like that in Englewood and helped the employees by the company we found out that I was a huge issue that we did a study for the city of 800 companies and found at 40%

18:49 Work at risk of closing because of the succession of ownership by the companies. We helped black and Latino entrepreneurs buying companies experience conclusion that I think we could have saved by 80% of the losses. We had during the 80s and 90s if Labour business government Community Adventure more proactive and more creative. So I came to the conclusion manufacturers viable. It's the should be the foundation for our society was worth the fight and now it's more of a major source of the work that what I came to conclusion within the first fifteen or so years of my work so that time so you were through just getting this huge amount of understanding and experience and engaging all these various levels. I mean the thing I found always interesting is that you weren't just you weren't just working with workers. You're also working with the management of these companies. It wasn't just about taking over. It really was building a new kind of a new structure for a company to be run.

19:49 And that was really inclusive it was you know, really having a lot of Engagement from community-based organizations Community leaders as part of and that's something you just don't you just come you think of jobs closing or it it feel so powerless and I think of other work that I know that that has served as I became to understand what what the organization was doing was just like wow, it's being incredibly proactive. It's not just saying all there goes another one and there's not much we can do it was say no we can really redefine how we we we we have business and economic and Community Development and I know the time you know, so we're going into as our story goes into the 90s. So I was in college. I went out to the time. To, California.

20:39 Still oblivious. Really I really I remember is a you know, if anybody asked me what you did I I've never could really explain it was like something with factories and labor unions as probably as much as I knew but but then your work really progressed. So you started getting interested in issues of education. So why is that like what cuz that then?

21:05 I come to work for you a little bit after the education work got off the ground but talk a little bit about how why education was. So why education in manufacturing realtor companies? Look at may endure closing we found some companies Resort intentionally being closed by people that this is coming to Wall Street particular others large publicly traded companies in a good example is when you have a new computer technology new technologies, you found people who are invested in manufacturing to make more money elsewhere. So traditionals investors in manufacturing actually began to pull out their revenue for manufacturing companies are there you can really point to a bad guy in venom in cases like they show succession if I can find a person by their company and they end up liquidating their company and getting 20% is how you win if they had a purchase order in place. I'm going to repay them for the value of your business and they have gotten a hundred percent of the return of investment.

22:01 So we begin to find as real as we realized main attraction is viable and it really wasn't only an evil force, but just promise of society we can work when we find out of manufacturing companies in owners want to work with us others that we could segment the world of corporate America and to what we call the high road and I know Road or people who really were part of the problem versus a large number of people including owners of companies that want to be part of the solution. So so we began to realize that we could build

22:31 Are workers eat around plant closings was never anti-business Rancho corporate is also offering a good business strategy versus a bad business strategy enough for your pregnant. But to your point we recognized really the 1990s that also manufacturing was changing in the sense that a lot of low-skilled workers going offshore. You know, it wasn't all chopped going to China in Mexico. That was a job that we're low-skill because they are trying to Mexico had a let's go Workforce that was really to work for 1/10 of the wages here so are companies in Chicago and around the country began to shift to doing more complex work using more and more sophisticated technology and they found they just simply couldn't find a talent they needed to do the work that that would also had a corresponding deindustrialization our school system. Where are the notification educational working with your hands was all seen as a pejorative thing and negative thing tracking thing for young people young people color.

23:28 So in the 19 in 2000, we actually were the Chicago Federation of Labor. We did a major study on the ratio of public education to the manufacturing sector and we found out that there are public school system in our city college system was really totally disconnected for manufacturing went which meant you had literally thousands of jobs going unfilled because of school system wasn't providing young people with skills and education to be successful and even going into entry level jobs for jobs at we were talking about the beginning of urban poverty. Show me this issue. We begin to recognize that are free. So we knew how important are manufacturing sector was we know that was viable and could compete but it had to have an educational infrastructure that serve that you know that that system and if you had a good at public education system the serve that system that would benefit the public that young people could get jobs. And so we started work where we get the study and it. And also understood what was going on International. He went to Europe and studied European best practice and came back.

24:28 The city and proposed dramatic changes in our education system and this was done Action Partnership for the Chicago Federation of Labor and that included

24:41 Yo, really you like seeing a lot of practices are common in Europe of having National skill certifications Korean Closer Closer partnership between private sector in public education and so on so forth. So I work that we did the major study offered a program for reform that was interesting even though we were over labor philia group. Our proposal for reform was embraced by for Danville Illinois manufacturers Association in organization was deeply Republican in deeply anti-labor, but they recognized the value of the work, what would that we were really identify a real problem is faced manufacturers and they offered to work with us until we hit that point created the Coalition she became familiar with of the Chicago manufacturing Renaissance Council of Coalition of Labor and business and community in and Educators in the first project of that Coalition was a creation Austin Polytech Academy of public high school gear towards meeting the standards of

25:37 You know, it's what we're not already called Advanced manufacturing companies in trolls were they needed for people with this kind of skills people needed to do the work but it was also a school that is embedded in the West Side Chicago school face. The challenges of poverty and violence is also for so now it's shorter when you became aware of what I was doing mother. We were very deliberate about we didn't direct you on what to think. I rarely took you to pick up lines or to told you about what I did because I felt bad for my own parents. It's better to model what you do and sooner or later your kids will catch up if if they're interested, but you try to impose your politics on your kids. They're going to hate you forever. I think it's because when I when I finish High School in 94, and then I went out to UC Berkeley for college and where I graduate 98 and pretty much that hold deck at my interest because of all the great, you know, your mom provide a great childhood and we had a

26:37 Of great experiences camping and being outdoors and I wanted to be a biologist and an ecologist and so so when I went off to college, I had all intentions of you know, doing that and everything from marine biology to herpetology and and and Beyond but then then I went into the Peace Corps in the late 90s.

27:00 Yeah, and I think that is when we had our first real conversation when you came down to visit when I was in Paraguay, I'm talking to this guy who's a peasant organizer and I'm trying to explain to him high road and low road and what you're doing and could you explain this to me so I can maybe that's why I remember the discussion starting and then I think when I came down to visit you just it was the concept but then I was also trying to explain and I will in Spanish but and then their indigenous language Barney, which was even more complicated. So I was like, oh my God, how am I going to explain because they essentially he had the assumption that pretty much all Americans were just

27:42 You know, it was just a country full of just rich people trying to get richer and and I just I just remember that was the first moment. I reflected. I was like wait a second. I don't think my dad is like that I think my dad is doing something different but I can't quite explain and that was really the first time I remember being genuinely interested in my call. What does my dad do I don't really so but when we when you came down and visited that's when we first talked about, you know, all these issues about why it was and I remember it was like 3 days solid talking of like why is why is the world the way it is and I can add to that in a sense that the second letter or that I remember it mean when I was used to ride home right away, but the second-team that emerge was this guy been working with he accused me of being a spot that the PS4 if I was in the Peace Corps, I must be a spy. Am I Spy?

28:42 In our history because I went to visit you in Paraguay and you pick me up in something and we got on a bus and went for 5 hours back into the countryside and

28:51 And was this thing we were talking about his name was you lived as a volunteer back in the bush wasn't even in town. I was simply a road and was just an area that was on the edge of you know, just the other Bush and I think when we got there and you and I talked

29:15 And we got to the Village I think within 5 minutes basilio was in Yelm in your compound and want to talk for the next 3 or 4 days fasting to me as I got to see you while you were there. You've been in the Peace Corps for a year. You were part of a community or working with teachers on environmental issues. You had standing you are status. You were professional organizer in a broader sense the word you were engaged and I never seen you in that way. You know what that point. I really know you only as high school student knew I didn't have dated a contact but they're not, you know, they were the people you're working with were activists and they were very interested in my ideas and they spoke were needed even speak Spanish. I mean, it didn't want to speak Spanish. So you were my translator for the highly political time environment. So for three days all we did was talk politics and you were my

30:09 You were my translator until I found that in the discussion the first of all it was just interesting and I think they became exposed to me and in the store that the depth of my ideas in my thinking and how it resonate in a community if I was really interesting cuz of the questions was a spy and you and I are taking the bus back to ascencion. I try to explain to you how you can be part of a young at the Peace Corps was part of the American foreign policy in many cases. It played a role in the intelligence community in which it maybe was benign but still has a role how that even you know that whoever was in your apartment agency. You report know what's going on in those reports could be used for any number of reasons and as we went from the bus into the Peace Corps Office, you know, your boss is also a really good guy was Twilight. Yeah. I've been using his reports and trying to figure out who were the leaders. I mean, it was a discussion that just reflecting exactly what concerns should have been funny how that was it again.

31:09 Yeah, and then I still went a little farther down my path. I ended up and went back to California and I ended up completing a master's in plant ecology. I was you know, but became increasingly more interested in environmental justice social justice issues all the experience. I had in Paraguay really kind of put me on this path, but finally I said, I know it came down to be coming back to Chicago after several years working as an organizer San Francisco and Central Valley. That's when I first really also became interested in issues of manufacturing and Community Development and release all very well. I was working with a a a farm worker community in central California and they were fighting one of the largest hazardous waste facility is New York's business community and City and and it was in that context where I first realized that

32:04 How to know this community over this County really had chosen hazardous waste as its Economic Development strategy and that's when I first really light bulb went off for me about a manufacturing can be part of a community-driven Economic Development strategy and that's when I'll so I know I was and that's an awesome Polytech was coming on line in Chicago for y'all cuz I mean in my own transition that you always made this makes the linkage is that what time to start that you manufactured was liable in your large were people including manufacturers that wanted to solve the problems were crazy prices at all levels and it became part of a development strategy you how are we not only retain companies are in focus on individual companies, but how do we rebuild this fabric including an educational infrastructure? That's so it became very much of a proactive strategy. I began as a person reaction to plant closings and then became a proponent of an aggressive proactive strategy for Community Development number different aspects it so we did start when the first

33:04 First project we started with a high school and high school start at Austin Polytech was modeled after an example of Spain in Spain. There's a town called Mondrian which is a center for cooperatives and an in manufacturing. In fact, when the most vibrant industrial regions and all of all of Europe and as we said it began with a Poly Technical School of teaching a group or Community Royal can meet with very little manufacturing but a priest started a school that taught young people the technical aspects of manufacturing of Machining and engineering and so on so forth to infuse them with Catholic Social teaching different values and then in 10 years of those students bought the first company Air Force Manufacturing Company organizes a Cooperative one worker one vote of the highest paid in to make more than three times the lowest paid and then that one company has now become a network of a hundred companies employing a hundred thirty thousand people. I mean was a vision of development. So we start Austin Polytech with that vision of development in mind. I mean to buy tickets in a poke

34:04 Wasn't just about going into just menial jobs or trucking jobs at the time when I was sitting still in California are in San Francisco where there's a lot of you know, Progressive work underway, and I just remembered I didn't know anyting any other project like what you were doing with awesome high-tech and I was really intrigued as like, wow, this is and that that was part of my interest in moving back to Chicago which I did and you offered me a job right away for so I was really grateful to have the chance to sexually Austin bicycle just started its first year and I came on board to help initially really twisted to help the community outreach and Community engagement, but then it turned more into actually building the program the work of a lifetime spent the last eight years building the program movie from scratch that is literally connecting young people to these career Pathways and Manufacturing and part of really

35:04 Building is next generation of leadership in this field in a way that you've been served envisioning for the last few know 20 30 years. They've been our project return to school and now manage just half of 11 people and you know when we are now and it's a project that is now it does we did what we we did what we said. We were due by understand the crisis in manufacturing and then it had Solutions there were solutions that crisis it wasn't some inevitable problem that nobody could solve we've been identified an area where we could intervene and education for structure that met the needs a company's but also included you presents from the west side. So now you know, and we and we took on a partnership with public schools go to the public school, which is going to complicated process, but we now have young people and the West Side, Chicago

35:59 Making $75,000 last year isn't skilled machinist supervisor in a company and we have kids going to getting going to pay for rides and Engineering. This is from the Austin Community as interesting about it. And to me that's why our work has been on his that we've created a prototype and now it's were tested can't take hold in the country. You're headed really, you know, identifying this what it was not called the skills Gap. I mean you were really talk about these issues 10 years before everybody else. And and so and I think through our practical work of actually starting and growing the program the way we have, you know, we I think we are actively influencing a lot of people about what's possible and I think we're now at a point to see, you know, we'll see.

36:59 Next 5 to 10 years is this work really lead to institutional change the can we really build a the kind of education and Workforce Development system that actually leads to young people of color really not just working for manufacturing companies, but really being the next generation of owners and leaders.

37:21 It is in the world as far as I'm concerned. Sorry, I wasn't my question is why have you stuck with it? But what did you find your what is a different than what you originally thought you would do to what you're doing. And what is where we where are you going to be in the next 10 years? That's a great question. I mean, it's this is I've been just yeah, I know this has been for not doing this work has been for me it is there are almost no words to describe. It has been deeply deeply profound experience for me and to be able to be able to play Such to be able to play a leadership role essentially in building something then I think really has the potential to make a real change in in Austin and also in communities like Austin everywhere. So for me, yeah being Camino from the Westside being African-American really me and being organized everything somebody who really wants to be part of the solution. I really feel like what what you started and now what I'm contributing to is Hino creating

38:21 Yeah, like I said a prototype that really can profoundly not yet profoundly change how educate how we think as a society of education and economic development at the end of my career and profession and I know I see my role I mean to me what exciting is that only have you begin to embrace you do continued the work to work on these kinds of issues, but we now have young graduates young manufacturers Association. I know you're working as an organizer just like I did you have 40 years ago with young people talking about in these young people who not working in manufacturing companies or trying to work they have they have actually Secour careers. They're open a big ideas. They're the same age. I was when I saw it went first to the South and and and now I view my role and it's actually fun because it is working.

39:21 Transferring what I learned over the last 45 years to them as both how to be successful at night just as a worker and have a good job. And also how to be a leader and talk about social change and be part of really approaching the sounds of our society in the opportunities that present so you're influencing to Generations now myself my generation as well as the these young people could come in at the food come out this program that we created actually many times and you know that I have the chance to work on my daughter to press work so closely on such a complicated issues into and be somewhat successful to check my tire life some great team.