Mike Eisner, BS '07
European Foundation for the Improvement of Living & Working Conditions
Mike Eisner spent Spring 2006 studying in Dublin. While there, he pursued a credit internship with the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The Foundation, with which ILR has a memorandum of understanding, is a tripartite organization representing European Union governments, employer federations, and labor unions. Mike was awarded a gift from the ILR Alumni Association for undertaking this international internship. Here Mike talks about his semester abroad.
At 8 am on January 29, I arrived in Dublin not knowing what to expect, but eager to begin my experience. After traveling to my apartment in Cabinteely, a small village in South Dublin between the coastal beach towns of Dun Laoghaire and Killiney, I ran into a small problem --I was locked out and my landlord was in the Caribbean. But hey, I guess this is what you go to college for-- to learn how to deal with some pressure.
Eventually, I settled in my apartment and prepared for my first day of work. To my surprise, the European Foundation was not strictly comprised of Irish Citizens; rather my coworkers had been carefully selected from all over the European Union. In my branch alone, industrial relations, I collaborated with former professors, lawyers, government officials, and businessmen from Greece, Italy, France, Germany, Finland, Spain, the UK, and even Canada. Although I was only physically working in one country, the international presence and personalities I encountered daily were truly remarkable.
While working at the Foundation, I was responsible for writing thematic features concerning collective dispute resolution, youth employment, and telework for the European Industrial Relations Observatory, a publication covering workplace developments in Europe. Researching the first topic opened my eyes to the different conflict resolution systems (public institutions, independent public agencies, and independent private agencies), collective agreements and their coverage (EU level, national, intersectional, and company), and the variance of dispute resolution measures (conciliation, mediation, and arbitration) among the twenty five Member States, Bulgaria, Romania, and Norway.
During my employment project, I was exposed to the extraordinary predicament facing youth in the labor market: the fraction of population aged 15-24 has and continues to decrease, whereas this same age group faces the highest and the most swiftly rising unemployment rates. Subsequently, I investigated the contemporary youth labor market programs of Europe that seek to reverse this trend. I found this task especially relevant not only because these labor market conditions directly affect college age students, but also because my research was simultaneous to the ongoing French riots during the spring of 2006.
My final undertaking, telework, dealt with this new and rapidly expanding form of work organization which affords personal life development for many employees. In doing so, I primarily investigated the 2002 EU Framework Agreement on Telework (a collective agreement protecting the rights of these isolated employees) and the barriers to its implementation in every European Country. Overall, my research papers during the internship dabbled in three fundamental areas of the ILR curriculum: collective bargaining, labor economics, and human resources.
The European Foundation also afforded me the opportunity to attend a multitude of conferences concerning industrial relations and the future direction and strategies of the European Union. During one conference, I met and discussed my research with Mr. Vladimir Spidla, the current European Union Commissioner for Employment and former Prime Minister of the Czech Republic -- a fair trade off considering I was missing Slope Day during the time.
I would recommend any ILR student looking to pursue an international experience to seriously consider Ireland. Aside from the natural beauty of the landscape and the frequent castles, Ireland also has a trendy aura, especially in Dublin which exhibits characteristics of any large international city. During the semester, I had a remarkable time and it was hard to leave the culture that I learned to love.
Special Thanks to Brigid Beachler, Prof. Daniel, the ILR Alumni Association, and to all of my coworkers who put up with me for four months.
- Mike Eisner, BS '07