In December, the UMass Boston administration decided to discontinue the Labor Studies program for budgetary reasons. This program is the only of its kind in New England and is essential to educating new leaders in the workforce.
The UMass Boston Labor Studies program has a proud history of educating labor leaders and civic activists. Since its founding in 1980, it has graduated people who have gone on to be union presidents, organizers and researchers, state senator and representatives, city councilors, labor lawyers, school teachers and college professors, leaders of NPOs and community organizations and other professionals who work on behalf of working people and the "99%".
What is Labor Studies?"
Labor Studies is an interdisciplinary field focused on issues of work, workers and their organizations (unions, etc.). It draws from such disciplines as history, sociology, economics, political science, law, communications, organizational development, industrial relations and more. It prepares current and future members of the workforce, union leaders, community activists, public servants, scholars and others to understand and confront the challenges of the increasingly complex and globalized economy of today, and to effectively advocate for working people in this context.
Why is Labor Studies important?
The Labor Studies BA degree gives working people an opportunity not only to better their own situation in life—as would any college degree–– but also to give back to their communities by becoming stronger, more knowledgeable and capable advocates for the rights of their fellow workers. Our graduates go on to become committed union leaders, public servants and others who dedicate their lives to making a better world. Many of our students are adults returning to school after years in the workforce as union or community activists, who are looking for additional knowledge and skills to enhance their activism.
Whether fighting for fire safety in Bangladesh factories, smaller classroom size in US public schools, or better pay in South African mines, unions around the world are struggling desperately to protect the rights of regular working people against the corporate behemoths of the global economy. Labor education gives these brave people the tools they need to survive and carry on the fight.
Click on the photos above to see or hear statements from some of our current students, alumni and supporters:
Consuelo Pérez: current student; community activist; immigrant from Peru
Steven Tolman: former Mass. State senator; current president of the Mass. AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations, the biggest federation of labor unions in the US; most US unions are affiliates)
Kathleen Casavant: Executive Director of the Women's Institute for Leadership Development (a grassroots non-profit organization whose mission is to promote the leadership of women, and particularly women of color, within unions and other organizations working for social and economic justice); former Secretary-Treasurer of Mass. AFL-CIO
Jeff Crosby: former President of IUE/CWA 201, a union of several thousand people, mostly workers at the General Electric plant in Lynn, MA; current faculty member in UMB Labor Studies program
Christine Boseman: current student; employee at UMass Boston and elected union steward of the union representing clerical and technical workers on the campus
Marie-Therese Browne: Sister of Charity; Advisory Board Member of the UMass Boston Labor Resource Center; immigrant from Trinidad and Tobago
Kenneth Simpson: current student; Boston firefighter; activist in firefighters union; immigrant from Jamaica
Please help us keep this important program alive!