“This is a homecoming,” said NYS Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon at the NYS AFL-CIO/Cornell Union Leadership Institute’s annual Change Makers Awards. Reardon, a 2005 graduate of the New York State AFL-CIO/Cornell Union Leadership Institute said, “I use the training and wisdom and encouragement that I got from ULI every day.”
On Friday, May 10th, the NYS AFL-CIO Cornell Union Leadership Institute celebrated 18 years of labor and worker leadership development with a breakfast awards reception. The reception honored labor leaders who have led transformative efforts within their organizations to empower all workers to organize and tackle economic inequality in workplaces and society. To promote and celebrate NYC labor history, the event was hosted in partnership with the Museum of the City of NY, which opened a labor history exhibit on May 1st, 2019. The exhibit, titled City of Workers, City of Struggle: How Labor Movements Changed New York, commemorated the rich history of labor struggles in New York City.
NYS Senator Jessica Ramos who is the Chair of the Committee on Labor was the keynote speaker. “Everyone deserves a day off, everyone deserves overtime pay, everyone deserves a prevailing wage, everyone deserves the right to collectively bargain,” Ramos said.
The Union Leadership Institute honored alumni including, Narbada Chhetri, Director of Organizing and Advocacy at Adhikaar, Mike Hellstrom, Assistant, Business Manager at the Mason Tenders District Council of Greater New York and Long Island; and Secretary-Treasurer of Local 108 – LIUNA, Gloria Middleton, President of Local 1180 - Communications Workers of America, and Melinda Person, Executive Director of New York State United Teachers.
The Institute also honored Sally Alvarez, Ph.D., Former Director and Co-Founder of The Union Leadership Institute, Cornell ILR University with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Alvarez is a retired member of the faculty of the Worker Institute at Cornell/ILR. Born in Greensboro, North Carolina, Alvarez holds a B.A from Duke University, a master's degree in communication from Auburn University and a Ph.D. in American studies from Emory University. Her work as a labor educator focused on communication, media, leadership development, organizational change, and ethics.
“If you are doing it alone you aren’t doing it right, that’s a quote I heard from a New York State United Teachers leader 20 years ago,” said Sally Alvarez during her lifetime achievement award speech.
The event was sponsored by ULI Legacy Sponsors: CWA Local 1180, New York State United Teachers, Local 1102 RWDSU/UFCW, United Federation of Teachers, LIUNA Local 79, TWU Local 100 and Laborers’ Eastern Region Organizing Fund.
The event was also sponsored by ULI Empowerment Sponsors: LIUNA Local 108, UAW Local 2179, New York State Public Employees Federation, IUOE Local 158, Teamsters Local 23, Council of School Supervisors & Administrators and IBEW Local 3.