Cornell University

April 4 2011

Union Days 2011

"Fighting the New American Inequality" events free and open to public

Joann LoILR's Union Days, beginning Tuesday, will include a live stream national teach-in, a panel on the fight to save public sector employee collective bargaining, a panel on economic inequality and the Social Justice Career Fair.

Events continue through Thursday and wrap up with keynote speaker Joann Lo, national coordinator of the Food Chain Workers Alliance.

Union Days events, free and open to the public, will be held in the ILR Conference Center and in Ives Hall.

"Ten That Toil Where One Reposes: Fighting the New American Inequality" is this year's theme.

Professor Risa Lieberwitz, who leads organization of Union Days, said the theme "focuses on how to tackle the deep problem of growing economic inequality in the U.S."

"As current struggles in Wisconsin and other states – including New York – have shown, labor unions are essential for employees to gain a fair share of the enormous wealth in this country," she said in an interview.

"But, the attack on public and private sector unions threatens to roll back these gains. The Union Days speakers will address how the labor movement can fight back for workers' rights to organize and bargain collectively for a fair distribution of wealth and power," Lieberwitz said.

Keynote speaker Lo graduated from Yale University with a degree in environmental biology and began work as an organizer on Los Angeles campaigns resulting in hundreds of new union members.

In 2001, she co-launched the Garment Worker Center. As lead organizer, she supported garment workers in Los Angeles who led a successful boycott against young women's retailer Forever 21.

In 2005, Lo joined Enlace, an alliance of low-wage workers centers and unions in the United States and Mexico. In 2009, she joined the Food Chain Workers Alliance, a coalition of worker-based groups organizing to improve wages and working conditions.

Union Days co-sponsors include ILR Extension Labor Programs, ILR Global Labor Institute, Cornell Organization for Labor Action, Cornell Students Against Sweatshops, Minority ILR Student Organization, ILR Office of Career Services, Cornell Labor Law Clinic, Sustainability Hub and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future.

Union Days 2011 events include:

2 to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday

National Teach-In: "Austerity, Debt, Corporate Greed and What YOU Can Do About It"

525 ILR Conference Center
Moderators are Frances Fox Piven and Cornel West.

Noon to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday

Panel: "Holding the Line: The Fight to Save Public Workers' Collective Bargaining"

225 ILR Conference Center

Panelists include Lenora Hanson, Teaching Assistants’ Association, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Sarah Domres, psychology teacher, Verona Area High School Social Studies Department, Wisconsin, and Fareed Michelen, community outreach specialist, New York State AFL-CIO.

4:30 to 6 p.m. Wednesday

Panel on Economic Inequality

105 Ives Hall

Panelists include Fareed Michelen, community outreach specialist, New York State AFL-CIO; Michael Bride, head of global union campaigns, United Food and Commercial Workers, and

Ayo Collins and Davis Ritsema of Jimmy John’s Workers Union, Industrial Workers of the World.

6:15 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday

Breakout discussion sessions with panelists. Refreshments provided.

Ives Hall

1 to 4 p.m. Thursday

Social Justice Career Fair

Ives Hall Second Floor Lobbies

Explore careers in social justice with Cornell alumni and representatives from labor and non-profit organizations.

4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday

Keynote address: Joann Lo, national coordinator, Food Chain Workers Alliance

105 Ives