Scheinman Institute Advisory Board Spotlight: Cheryl Teare
Name: Cheryl Teare
Profession: I am the Director of the AFT Union Leadership Institute and am a certified employment law mediator.
Education: Tufts University, BA
Rutgers Law School, JD
I have run political campaigns, and then moved onto being a field representative with the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU). While at NTEU, I served as chief negotiator on national contracts with the Internal Revenue Service District Offices and Service Centers. I jumped at the chance to help build the Cooperative Efforts Department of that union.
Working with management, we were able to address issues that had been impossible at the bargaining table. After NTEU I came to the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and after two years, found myself serving as director of the department. Here, I have worked on several joint labor management initiatives, designed and delivered numerous trainings, mentored colleagues, advised local and state federation presidents, served as an internal mediator and helped launch the very popular AFT/ Cornell Collective Bargaining Institute.
Additionally, I have served as president of the United Association for Labor Education (UALE), and recently have earned my employment law mediation certificate from the Scheinman Institute.
My most memorable professional experience:
There are several experiences that stand out but I want to highlight one that I had with the late Lois Gray, Professor Emerita of Labor Relations at the ILR School. While president of UALE, I was asked to be a discussant on (a panel?) about an article that Lois had written. You must understand that I really looked up to this woman and all that she accomplished. Lois called me to tell me that I needed to be tough and not just ask nice questions. So I went to work.
At the end of our session, which had great attendance, she took my hand and said that I had done one of the best jobs she could remember of interrogating ideas and assumptions. I was beyond thrilled, to this day.
What motivates me to be involved with the Scheinman Institute?
I do not go around picking fights but I do love to resolve conflict. When there are "elephants" in the room issues - I may bide my time but have often been the one to point out there is an elephant. But pointing that out and then helping people address the elephant (real or perceived) is not easy or fast. It takes time and patience and skill.
I truly believe that one of the biggest areas of conflict is in fact, agreement. The alignment of goals, ideas and actions that is invisible to the parties but that a third party can help discern and reveal. Conflict can be between and among institutions, societies and individuals. Being able to get knee deep in helping to resolve conflict is so needed and is in fact exciting.
When invited to serve on the Scheinman Advisory Board I said to myself - here is a real chance to do what you love and make a difference. Helping others learn and appreciate the many avenues that are available to address conflict through the work of the Scheinman Institute is exciting.
How has the pandemic changed my work?
As a person who loves human interaction - this has been a huge change. The upside is that for my job, I am gaining proficiency with Zoom and other platforms. I take a lot more time with the written word, and I look for visuals to support the points I am making when using PowerPoint. I am more aware of how each of us represents ourselves, the organizations we are part of, and how they represent themselves to others. All of this has changed the way I work and show up in virtual space, due to the pandemic. I also think it has made me a better listener.
A personal experience working with the Institute/ ILR:
To date - most of my experience with ILR has been through the AFT Cornell Collective Bargaining Certificate program. Working with Sally Klingel, Ellen Gallin Procida, Dan McCray and others, we have just completed our 6th five-day collective bargaining intensive program, reaching approximately 200 students. The students (all members of the AFT) are so proud to be learning with and from Cornell and their joy and accomplishment is inspiring. We are helping them make a difference in the lives of others on both sides of the table.
Advice I would five to students in the conflict resolution field:
Be curious. Be creative and don't wait to get involved in this vast arena of alternative dispute resolution. Even if you start here and go off into another area - there will always be conflict and people will look to you to help resolve the issues.