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Rewarding Work

Economist describes her union career at Labor Roundtable

Jenny Ho MPA '10 is based in Washington, D.C., where she works as a labor economist for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Earlier this month, she spoke at ILR's Labor Roundtable about her work and 2011 events that have both threatened and strengthened the movement dedicated to worker rights.

Challenges to collective bargaining in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states have "mobilized our members and allies on the ground," she told 100-plus students Nov. 18 at the Statler Hotel.

"There is deep sense of solidarity. A career in the labor movement is an exciting opportunity to be part of a larger fight for the interests of working families and for a fair and just economy," she said.

"I wanted students to know how rewarding it is to do work that builds worker power," said Ho, who studied and worked as a research assistant at ILR. She completed her master's thesis with data collected through research by ILR Labor Education Research Director Kate Bronfenbrenner.

At the Labor Roundtable, Ho said, she told students how careers vary within the labor movement. "Work environment, hours and day-to-day tasks can vary dramatically depending on the particular occupation and the particular union."

Simon Boehme '14, who attended the annual event, said, "Questioning labor leaders on their motivations, beliefs and daily activities provided a glimpse of the field I never knew about."

Alumni from across Cornell participated in the 2011 Labor Roundtable. They included:

  • Eric Dirnbach ENG '92, Green Jobs Campaign, Laborers' International Union of North America
  • Alexander Feltham MILR '08, program officer, Solidarity Center
  • Lindsy Lee '02, labor lawyer, Office of Labor Management, U.S. Department of Labor

Additional speakers included:

  • David Borer, general counsel, American Federation of Government Employees
  • Mark Brenner, director, East Coast office, Labor Notes
  • LaMont Byrd, director, Health & Safety, Teamsters
  • Joe Drexler, director, Education & Strategic Campaigns, United Steelworkers Canada
  • Liana Foxvog, national organizer, SweatFree Communities
  • Justin Gomez, organizer, Service Employees International Union 32BJ
  • Julie Kushner, director, Region 9A, United Auto Workers
  • Eve-Laure Moros Ortega, filmmaker, Art 21
  • Sara Nelson, vice president, Association of Flight Attendants (AFA/CWA)
  • David Newby, president emeritus, Wisconsin State AFL-CIO
  • Rosalyn Pelles, director, Civil, Human, and Women's Rights, AFL-CIO
  • Barbara Young, National Domestic Workers' Alliance