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.
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
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.
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)
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