Category Archives: Alumni Spotlight

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News from the SLU Community September 2020

For the second year in a row, Dean Gregory Mantsios has been named to City & State New York’s annual “Labor Power 100” list, which recognizes the most influential figures—activists, educators, community leaders and elected officials—in New York labor: Dean Mantsios was specifically lauded for having spent decades building programs in labor studies, which culminated in our School! In addition to Dean Mantsios, a number of SLU’s Advisory Board members and other friends of SLU are recognized. Read about all of them here. 
On October 1st, Diana Robinson will be recognized by NSPC Brain & Spine Surgery at a virtual event: “Salute to Labor: Honoring Members of the Labor Community and the Organizations that Support Them.”
Another SLU adjunct faculty member, Patricia Campos-Medina, has been elevated to co-Executive Director of The Worker Institute at Cornell. Here are ILR’s announcement and Patricia’s Facebook post.
Camille Rivera, who taught “Campaigns and Elections” last semester at SLU, has just been named by City & State New York to their list of “100 Power Latinas in New York State (#55). Read about Camille here.
On August 15th, Marie Romani was awarded an Masters of Science in higher education administration by Barry University in Florida. Marie began her program last August, and completed the one-year accelerated online program with a GPA of 3.917. In addition, Marie was inducted into the Tri Sigma Alpha Student Affairs Honor Society during her final semester. She sends special regards to her frequent classmate, Orson Barzola, who is currently in the same program.
Marie is planning to walk in Barry’s commencement in December, and has already bought her cap and gown.Congratulations, Marie!
SLU’s Community and Worker Ownership Project has welcomed a new intern, Lesly Calle. Lesly is a fourth-year Macaulay Honors student at the City College of New York. She is pursuing a major in Economics with a minor in Public Policy and is interested in social justice, economic inequality, and environmental policy. Last fall, Lesly was selected to be part of the inaugural cohort of Climate Policy Fellows at CCNY’s Colin Powell School of Civic and Global Leadership, where she worked with a team to develop a policy brief on single-use plastic mitigation and its effects on climate change. Welcome Lesly!
Rob Callaghan is proud to announce a new arrival! Rob’s wife, the writer Joni Murphy, recently delivered a new novel, Talking Animals (MacMillan 2020). The publisher describes it as “a fable for our times [that] takes place in an all-animal world where creatures rather like us are forced to deal with an all-too-familiar landscape of soul-crushing jobs, polluted oceans, and a creeping sense of doom.” In its write-up Slate calls the book “a scathing allegory about capitalism starring an alpaca.”

SLU Alum Nastaran Mohit in Teen Vogue

To get more people organizing labor, more people need to know what organizers actually do. Which is why we were thrilled to see Teen Vogue feature a day in the life of Nastaran Mohit: labor champion, current organizing director of the NewsGuild of New York — and SLU alum. From the article:

It’s a tough time to be in journalism. Revenue sources are dwindling and new layoffs seem to be announced every day — and the COVID-19 pandemic sent another shockwave through the industry. That’s where Nastaran Mohit comes in. As organizing director of the NewsGuild of New York, Mohit works to unionize the staff at newspapers, magazines and online publications, so that reporters, editors and social media staff have access to the benefits and protections they so sorely need. The NewsGuild, a sector of the Communications Workers of America, represents more than 24,000 journalists and other media workers across the U.S. and Canada. Mohit has led successful campaigns to unionize publications including The New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times, New York Magazine and BuzzFeed. Here’s a window into the life of a busy union organizer.

Read about a day in the life of Nastaran here.

SLU Alum Liam Lynch Fights for Worker Safety During Pandemic

Liam Lynch (M.A. Labor Studies 2015) is on the front lines of the COVID-19 response. Not in a hospital, but in a classroom. Not wielding a stethoscope and a thermometer, but a Powerpoint presentation and the law.

Liam works as a Safety & Health Specialist with the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), a non-profit comprised of workers, unions, community-based organizations, workers’ rights activists, and health and safety professionals committed to defending every individual’s right to a safe and healthy workplace. Continue reading SLU Alum Liam Lynch Fights for Worker Safety During Pandemic

Alumni Achievement: Mia Ragozino, Union Organizer

On January 28th, following 10 months of failed negotiations, nearly 8,000 employees of Swedish Health Services, all members of SEIU 1199 Northwest—a union representing more than 30,000 nurses and healthcare workers throughout Washington State and Montana—walked out on a three-day strike. Right there on the picket lines with them was SLU alumna Mia Ragozino.

Ragozino, who earned her Masters in Labor Studies in 2019, recently joined SEIU 1199NW as an organizer. “SEIU 1199 was a good fit for me,” said Mia. “It’s an organizing union with a racial justice lens and a concernfor workers’ safety.” She said the strike was a last resort in the union’s fight for not just fair compensation, but for adequate staffing and patient safety. “Since corporate giant Providence took over the Swedish healthcare system, management has prioritized profits and executive pay over patients’ needs and workers’ rights.” She noted that three presidential candidates had tweeted in support of the walk-out, including Senators Sanders, Warren, and Pete Buttigieg.
Mia says her learning experiences at SLU prepared her well for her current role. “SLU prioritizes the education of people and workers of color. And learning about the history of the labor movement was a huge eye-opener for me.” After SLU, Mia attended Cornell ILR’s summer institute for strategic corporate research. While there, she learned about the job with SEIU 1199NW.
Mia credits Professor Stephanie Luce with not only inspiring her, but for recommending her for the position in Seattle. “She was a role model for me,” said Mia, “and she helped me get started in the career I always wanted to pursue. It all came together at SLU.”
Professor Luce returned the compliment: “It was a joy to have Mia as a student,” she said. “Her energy and passion for social justice inspired other students as well as me. Given her sharp mind and research skills, SEIU 1199NW is lucky to have her!”
Read more about the SEIU 1199 healthcare workers’ strike here.

Andres Puerta Talks Organizing on Museum Confidential

In New York and California, museums are getting unionized. And if organizers have anything to say about it, this is a trend that’s going to spread. Last month, SLU alum and IUOE Local 30 Director of Special Projects Andres Puerta went on Museum Confidential to discuss the recent wave — and where we might go from here. Check it out.

Photo by Dave Nakayama via flickr (cc-by)

Union Semester Success Story: Brittany Anderson

How do you create a labor organizer? SLU’s Union Semester program is a good place to start. Just ask Brittany Anderson.

Brittany suspected early on that the American Dream wasn’t real for most working people. Raised in rural Minnesota by a single mom who worked multiple jobs, income inequality wasn’t a theoretical concept, it was a daily reality. So she decided to do something about it.

Brittany moved to New York City for college in 2008 and got involved with the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. “I had no idea how huge the labor movement was, how powerful. It really opened my eyes,” she said. The young protester from the Midwest quickly found herself under the wing of seasoned union organizers, who recognized her passion and potential. They told her about the Union Semester program at CUNY’s Murphy Institute and in Spring 2014 she enrolled.

“The program really helped prepare me for a career in the labor movement,” Brittany said. Continue reading Union Semester Success Story: Brittany Anderson