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About Jeffrey Grabelsky

Jeff Grabelsky is the Associate Director of The Worker Institute at Cornell. He develops and delivers education and training programs and provides research and technical assistance in all aspects of union affairs. The programs he has worked on have reached over 300,000 unionists nationwide.

Jeff began his career in the labor movement working and organizing in the steel industry in 1973, has been a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) for thirty years, and is the former national organizing director of the Building and Construction Trades Department (AFL-CIO).

After September 11, 2001, Jeff represented the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York on the World Trade Center Emergency Project Labor-Management Partnership.

Jeff worked with building trades leaders in Washington, D.C. and New Orleans to plan and launch the Gulf Coast Workforce Development Project, a pre-apprenticeship program offering career opportunities in the building trades for Gulf Coast residents impacted by Hurricane Katrina.

Jeff is currently co-coordinating the Construction Career Opportunities Project, a joint initiative involving Cornell University, the Partnership for Working Families, and the Building and Construction Trades Department. He is also representing the Building and Construction Trades Department on the Emerald Cities Initiative as a Special Assistant to President Mark Ayers.

Jeff serves on the Board of Directors of The Edward J. Malloy Initiative for Construction Skills (formerly Construction Skills 2000), a highly effective pre-apprenticeship program based in New York City.

Jeff has written widely on current labor issues, including "Building and Construction Trades Unions: Are They Built to Win?" (Social Policy, Winter 2005); "Standing at a Crossroads: The Building Trades in the Twenty-First Century" (Labor History, Fall 2005, co-authored with Mark Erlich); "Construction or De-Construction? The Road to Revival in the Building Trades" (New Labor Forum, Winter 2007); “A New Alliance for New York State: A Progress Report on the Labor Movement's Restructuring” (Working USA, Spring 2007); “Building a Future Together: Worker Centers and Construction Unions” (Labor Studies Journal, March 2008, co-authored with Janice Fine and Victor Narro); “Building Labor's Power in California,” (Working USA, Spring 2009); “Emerald Cities in the Age of Obama: A New Social Compact Between Labor and Community” (Perspectives at Work, Winter 2010, co-authored with Phil Thompson); “Psychosocial Capacity Building in New York: Building Resiliency With Construction Workers Assigned to Ground Zero After 9/11” (Social Work With Groups, Winter 2010, co-authored with Josh Miller and K.C. Wagner); and “'We're Getting Our Country Back’: Reflections of Politics, Race, Labor and Community In the Age of Obama -- A Conversation with Mark Ayers, President, Building and Construction Trades Department (AFL-CIO)” (Working USA, Winter 2010). He is co-editor of Up Against the Open Shop - New Initiatives in the Building Trades, co-producer of the Construction Industry Audio Project, and co-editor of The Campaign Guide: Organizing the Construction Industry.

Jeff also co-authored the trainer's manuals for the UBCJA and IBEW national steward training programs, COMET (Construction Organizing Membership Education Training), COMET II (Worksite Organizing with COMET Activists), MEMO (Membership Education and Mobilization for Organizing), and the AFL-CIO Voice at Work Membership Mobilization Programs.

Jeff received his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Michigan, his M.A. in U.S. Labor History from Syracuse University, his M.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University, and his Journeyman Electrician Classification from the IBEW.


Present Associate Director, Cornell University ILR School The Worker Institute
Present Director, Cornell University ILR School Construction Industry Program


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Contact Information

Cornell University, ILR School
16 E. 34th Street, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10016
PHONE: 212-340-2825


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