"Labor on the Line"

Union Days 2015 focuses on innovative organizing
Monday, March 23, 2015

Tefere Gebre left Ethiopia as a teen-aged political refugee and got his start in the labor movement as a night shift loader for UPS while in college.

On April 8, he will be the keynote speaker at ILR’s Union Days, “Labor on the Line: Breaking Boundaries, Building Movements.”

Now executive vice president of the AFL-CIO, Gebre worked his way up through California’s labor movement and in 2013, was elected to his current role.

Since then, Gebre “has focused his attention on building strong partnerships between labor and community groups, immigrant rights advocates and civil rights organizations, especially emphasizing building the labor movement in the South,” according to his AFL-CIO biography.

The annual event, free and open to the public, begins at 4:30 p.m. April 7 in 105 Ives Hall. Panelists on “Broadening the Labor Movement, Innovative Organizing” include:

  • Michelle Lim, strategic campaign organizer, Jobs with Justice
  • Silvia Fabela, senior campaign coordinator, Making Change at Walmart
  • Sean Sellers, co-founder and senior investigator, Fair Food Standards Council
  • Patricia Campos-Medina, co-director, New York State/AFL-CIO Union Leadership Institute, Worker Institute at Cornell
  • Rana Jaleel, postdoctoral fellow, Columbia Law School; American Association of University Professors national councilperson


The discussion is followed by breakout groups from 6 to 7 p.m.

On April 8, a talk about art and social activism will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the ILR Conference Center, King-Shaw Hall Room 225. Lunch will be served.

Labor muralist and street artist Mike Alewitz, artistic director of the Labor Art and Mural Project, will give an audiovisual presentation of art that has been a part of working-class struggles.

The Social Justice Career Fair, with representatives from labor and non-profit organizations, will be from 1 to 4 p.m. in Room 423 of the ILR Conference Center.

Gebre’s keynote follows from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in 105 Ives Hall.

An exhibition, “The City at the Crossroads of History” of work by Alewitz will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. in King-Shaw Hall Room 225.

Union Days is sponsored by The Worker Institute at Cornell and the ILR School
Co-sponsors include: Cornell Organization for Labor Action, Cornell Students Against Sweatshops, ILR Office of Career Services, Cornell Graduate Students United,
ILR Office of Student Services, Catherwood Library, Latina/o Studies Program, Cornell Department of Art, Cornell Department of Development Sociology, Cornell Farmworker Program, Cornell Law & Society minor, Tompkins County Workers’ Center.

To learn more about the event, contact Risa Lieberwitz, professor of labor and employment law, at rll5@cornell.edu.