Cornell University

November 17 2011

Ninth Annual Labor Roundtable

Event features "invaluable networking" with labor leaders

Ellen Stutzman '04 has advice for the 100-plus students meeting Friday with union leaders from around the nation at ILR's Ninth Annual Labor Roundtable.

"Talk to as many of the speakers as you can. Don't be afraid to ask them about what you want to know," she said in an interview.

The event begins at 1 p.m. in the Statler Hotel's Carrier Ballroom. It is open to all students from Cornell, Tompkins County Community College and Ithaca College. Pre-registration is required and available by emailing laborroundtable@cornell.edu.

Stutzman, director of Research and Public Policy for the Writers Guild of America, West, was a founder of the first roundtable.

"We created it on the notion that students in both the ILR School and other programs should have the opportunity to learn a bit more about what it is like to work within the labor movement and the variety of career opportunities that are available in the social justice field," she said.

"The ILR School was created to foster collective bargaining and we wanted to further that mission," Stutzman said.

The First Annual Labor Roundtable was held in the fall of 2003. Students interested in the labor movement and active in social justice groups on campus worked with professors to identify and invite union professionals, she said.

ILR Director of Labor Education Research Kate Bronfenbrenner continues to advise the Roundtable event, in which speakers introduce themselves to students, then circulate in 20-minute intervals to speak with eight to 10 students at a time.

Conversation in small groups, Stutzman said, " … is a great learning opportunity, but also an invaluable networking exercise. Unions are always hiring and the ability to speak with someone and make a personal connection is a great value to offer to students."

Alumni from across Cornell are participating in Friday's event. They include:

  • Eric Dirnbach ENG '92, Green Jobs Campaign, Laborers' International Union of North America
  • Alexander Feltham MILR '08, program officer, Solidarity Center
  • Jenny Ho MPA '10, labor economist, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
  • Lindsy Lee '02, labor lawyer, Office of Labor Management, U.S. Department of Labor

Additional speakers include:

  • 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