Zach Cunningham (Graduate Student FAQ)

Graduate Student Representative, Zach Cunningham, Discusses LERA FAQs

Hello fellow graduate students.

Earlier this year some of my colleagues at The Worker Institute asked me to attend the Labor and Employment Relations Association’s (LERA) annual conference in Pittsburgh, PA. At first I didn’t know much about the organization but now I could not be more excited about attending and getting involved. Below you will find answers to some of the basic questions I had at first. If you can, I would encourage you to participate. LERA provides a great opportunity to interact with labor relations experts from various backgrounds. If you have any further questions, feel free to reach out either to me or to one of your professors!

1) What is LERA?

LERA, which stands for Labor and Employment Relations Association, has more than 3,000 members, and brings together a diverse cross-section of people interested in labor and employment relations. Members include representatives from labor unions, corporations, government officials, academics, advocates, and neutral parties. The organization provides a forum in which practitioners can discuss the latest issues in this field, including collective bargaining, compensation and benefits, public policy, labor and employment law, and union organizing.

2) How does LERA work?

LERA is a national organization. There are also a number of smaller bodies within LERA, like:

  • Industry Councils that focus on labor relations issues within specific industries.
  • Interest Sections that focus on particular subtopics within labor and employment relations. Current Interest Sections include collective bargaining, dispute resolution, international, labor, and employment law, labor markets/economics, labor unions/labor studies, NAFTA/regional integration, and human resources.
  • 50+ local chapters that allow people to learn about local employment issues and network with other professionals in their areas.

3) Why does LERA matter to me?

LERA presents an opportunity to connect with the world’s leading experts in the fields of labor and employment relations. In addition to the resources outlined below in question five, you can also become involved in a local chapter where you can network with people in your area. The closest local is the Central New York Chapter in Syracuse and you can connect with people in chapters across the country after you leave Ithaca.

4) What are some ways that I can get involved?

LERA has heavily discounted memberships for students. If you join now you will receive the discounted student rate of $25. Local LERA chapters hold regular meetings that any member can attend. These often involve interesting speakers and networking opportunities. You can also consider attending the next national annual meeting, which will be held in Pittsburgh from May 28-31, 2015, where there will be panels and presentations, including a number by ILR faculty, on many important topics in labor relations. One of the best ways to get more deeply involved with LERA is by working with a professor who is already active in the association.

5) What do I get if I become a member?

LERA membership comes with a number of benefits, such as:

  • Access to LERA publications on industrial relations and human resources
  • Use of the LERA membership directory, which includes expert researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners throughout the country
  • Attendance at annual LERA meetings

For a full list of membership benefits, visit

6) How can I learn more?

Just visit LERA’s website at!