Interns Reach Global Audience
The New Conversations Project work on sustainable supply chains at the ILR School put 10 Cornell ILR students to work this summer on in-house projects, while others interned with international unions focused on global supply chain issues.
“In the COVID-19 era, the internships were remote, but these students were able to get very close to the action,” said NCP Executive Director Jason Judd. “Getting investors to support protections for long-term care workers and organizing Amazon warehouse workers are both really timely campaigns.”
Two students – Ryan Madrigal ’23 and Carson Taylor ’23 – had internships with UNI Global Union, working for UniCare, while Gabriela Gaddam ‘24 worked on UNI’s Amazon campaign. Based in Nyon, Switzerland, UNI represents more than 20 million workers in skills and services from over 150 countries.
Madrigal and Taylor supported the union with research work for its global UniCare campaign to raise standards for workers and patients in nursing homes. As part of this, they were documenting best practices and creating comparisons of legislation and standards across countries. Over the summer, each intern in the group of six ILR students created a summary for key countries or jurisdictions that explained differing systems for nursing homes in each country that can global comparisons.
Madrigal, who is considering law school and a future as a field attorney for the National Labor Relations Board, took the internship because he wanted to obtain experience working closely with a union.
“With UniCare, I learned about the intricacies of operating a union and the copious amount of research that must take place before beginning a larger project,” he said. “I was also to learn more about how certain regions regulate nursing homes and that even states that are known to have ‘stricter’ regulations, still do not provide enough care for residents. By the end of my internship, the leaders were pleased with all the work we completed in such a short time.”
Taylor’s work on two UNI projects began in February and lasted through the summer. From February to May, he built profiles of health care corporations that operated residential care or assisted living facilities for investor outreach.
“Essentially, this involved reading audit reports, researching national requirements for staffing and care, reading annual reports and 10Ks [reports to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission], and compiling that research for use by the UNI Care team in influencing investors to advocate for better conditions.”
Through the summer, Taylor’s work continued at UNI, but was part of the ILR Credit Internship Program.
The summer work was similar, but focused on building country profiles, rather than companies.
“A good amount of that work was spent going through government challenges and violations during COVID-19, where assisted living homes were hit hard in most of the countries and companies I researched,” Taylor said.
According to Adrian Durtschi, head of UNI’s UNICARE sector, “The support of Cornell interns in a summer internship provided us with high-quality research that was extremely helpful in advancing our campaign for raising standards in global nursing homes. We were extremely impressed by the professionalism, quality of research and analysis, and eagerness to learn of all the interns we worked with.”
“Carson’s pro-active approach and thoughtful connection of individual research to the bigger picture not only provided very useful research, but also connected it to the wider goals of the campaign,” he continued. “Ryan similarly went beyond what was asked to produce several clear and succinct reports. His analytical presentation showed real insights, drawing out lessons from one country that can be applied beyond.”
For Gaddam, the internship with UNI provided her with valuable experience related to working with labor unions.
She worked on a variety of tasks, including connecting with activists and political figures in order to gain exposure for UNI Global’s “Make Amazon Pay'' campaign, which attempts to bring awareness to Amazon's unfair labor practices and its tendency to prevent union-related activities.
“In the future I would like to help businesses with more than just financial consulting and with human resource consulting,” Gaddam said. “I believe that it is important for businesses to learn from other large corporations and to apply more equitable practices into their own business strategies. This way, employees will enjoy their place of work more and employers would have a better relationship with their employees.”