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Graduates, commencement is just three weeks away!

It’s time to select your class speaker. This week is your opportunity to learn more about the speakers and ask them questions.

From today until June 10, you are welcome to ask the nominees questions in the comments section of the blog post. Class speaker nominees are welcomed to answer back in the same comments section.

Graduates have from June 11-14 to email Janine Curtis with their vote. The class speaker will be announced on June 15, giving the speaker one week to prepare a speech.

The following 14 graduates (in alphabetical order) have been nominated to speak at the Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, June 23, 2012:

We asked the nominees a few questions to help you get to know them better. Here are their responses.

Julie Henderson

  1. Tell us about yourself.
    I am a 16-year member of the United Association (UA) of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 177 in Brunswick, GA.  I am currently the Training Coordinator, a part-time position, for Local 177’s training program.  I also work part-time as a UA Master OSHA Instructor.   My jobs carry me all over the country so it is a good thing that I like to travel and see new places.  I am married to a pipefitter.  Mark is also a member of Local 177.  For those who are wondering, no, we do not work together on jobs because we like being married.  We have a 10-year-old son named Seth.  We usually spend our weekends riding the golf cart, zip lining and other water activities, going to the gun range or during the fall watching football.  Go DAWGS!
  2. What would it mean to you to be your class’s speaker?
    This may be the toughest question of the five.  I have never really been much of a speaker though anyone who has met will tell you I have never been at a loss for words.  I was surprised and extremely honored to be nominated.  I believe that being the class speaker not only means representing our class. It means representing my family, my local union, and my international union.  It represents the struggles we all faced in trying to get to this point, graduation.  It represents those who paved the way for people like us that want more than just a job.  Those of us who know there is more to being in a union than just going to work.  It represents brotherhood and solidarity.
  3. Tell us about your NLC “journey.”
    I had a false start at NLC during the fall of 2007 when I took only one class and then stopped.  It took me three more years to “screw my head on straight” and the request of my six “bosses” before I really set in to finish my degrees.   I will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Labor Education with a second major in Labor Safety and Health.  Each class has been a challenge within itself.  I have had great professors, for the most part, and can find little to complain about.  I can say without a doubt that the Senior Project was the biggest challenge.  I learned quite a bit about myself and my family during my journey.  I learned that I am tougher than I thought.  I learned that my family can get along without me on occasion, but they don’t like it.  I learned that no matter what, the family unit will always have my back.  Mainly, I learned that if you try hard enough, believe in yourself and have a great support system, you can do anything, even graduate with dual degrees while having two part-time jobs with a full-time family.
  4. What does your NLC degree mean to you?
    In 2010, the Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC) of Local 177 challenged me by offering to pay my way to complete my Bachelor of Arts in Labor Education.  They didn’t know they were creating a monster.  Through Julie Mendez-De Leon, I found out that if I took only one more class, it would secure me a second major.  I made it my mission to earn these degrees as quickly as possible.  Many times I would miss work to finish a paper or complete assignments.  The six men who make up the JATC believed in me, never complained and always encouraged me.  These degrees mean so very much to me!  They are proof of the trust my union has put in me!
  5. If you could re-take ONE class, which one would it be and why?
    If I could retake one class, it would be Senior Seminar.  I would probably try to enjoy the class more and maybe even rethink the way I approached my project.


Mark King

  1. Tell us about yourself and your NLC journey. 
    My life changed some years ago, as the result of a pretty horrific motorcycle accident. It took a bunch of time to get over — time used to get my body and brain back in gear – I broke some 40 bones and blew my helmet apart. The police kept the biggest intact part, a “Helmet Laws Suck” sticker.Go figure.Since then I felt I must have a reason for being here, for drawing breath and waking anew each morning to that everyday gift we call “Life”.I have worked a number of jobs in my life, rooftop mason tender and sometime mason, chimney sweep, carpet installer, millwright, parts changer for an auto mechanic – one common characteristic among them all was that I worked hard for my pay. Another characteristic is I relied on the goodwill of my employer, and that I have found, painfully at times, isn’t enough. I have worked in huge enterprises where everyone was paid cash, straight time, for 60 to 80 hour weeks. No insurance. No security. An example? I have worked for a proprietor who couldn’t pay me because he had a boat and truck payment due. That wasn’t mentioned though until the weeks work was accomplished.Go figure.You see, I know why we need unions.I worked for myself, as a Painting Contractor. Gotta say, I loved the work. I loved that what I earned was up to me, dictated by my ambition and drive. I’d look for houses that obviously needed my services, look up the owners on the tax rolls, then send them a letter of inquiry. I built a good client base, they’d recommend me to to their friends. I never advertised, relying on my reputation worked; I was fast, good at my craft and responsive to the “Get it done yesterday” attitude of realtors – I became a known quantity in my field and stayed occupied.My girlfriend would come home from her hospice job and be aglow from helping others. I would come home with a check. I felt like I needed more out of life. Better put: I wanted to give something back.

    If you work in any trade you know how you accomplish something new. You have to have a clear plan. You have to go step by step, each building on the last, and cover all the bases before moving on.

    Step one: Figure out what you want to accomplish.

    You may know of Joseph Campbell – He had a TV show called “The Power of Myth”. I read a great deal during my recovery — reading is one way of getting your brain to‘re-wire’ itself after it suffers trauma. One thing he said stuck out and rang true to me: “Follow your bliss”. His thought was if you follow your bliss, you know, if you do what makes you happiest, the universe will help you along to reach your goal.

    I’m an autodidact, that is, someone who teaches himself – in my case, through reading. I have lived in a bunch of places in a handful of states, and got a library card first thing every time I settled down. Libraries are the most democratic of institutions, open to all citizens, free, — if you want to learn something, be entertained, whatever the case, at the library it is all up to you. I strongly believe in the value of libraries in our communities.

    So I got step one squared away. I want to accomplish securing a job at a library. A dear friend who is a library worker in North Carolina suggested I volunteer so the library administration would know me when a position opened. Worked out a system with them where I would do data entry, 4 hours a day, on the days I didn’t have painting gigs. I communicated with them really well, letting them know if I anticipated a block of time opening in the week ahead, and treated my volunteer slot as if it were an actual job.

    Next step: Get my foot in the door.

    I applied for the first job that opened, Library Assistant. That is a front line worker, entry level. I made a discovery just then. Per the Union contract any position above Janitor or Security Guard needed a Bachelor’s degree. I was sporting a two year Associate Degree. DAMN.

    I walked out thinking, “The only job I can get here is Janitor, and the Janitor has been here 17 years.”

    Remember Joseph Campbell? The follow your bliss and the universe will help you thing?

    A library staffer called me shortly thereafter. The Janitor was throwing in the towel.

    Go figure.

    Administration knew and recommended me. The maintenance supervisor had been a painter, appreciated my drive and would give me a go.

    “Would I like to join the Union?” “Damn Straight!” My Mom and Dad were Union their whole working lives. My Uncle was an organizer in the paper mills of New England back when organizers were called communists and got threats, got his tires slashed. If he hadn’t introduced my folks I wouldn’t be typing this. I had been brought up in the fold.

    I got involved. I volunteered for duties in my local, and was elected Steward after my first year. I found a new way to honor this gift of life – helping my fellow workers.

    Next step: Moving up to a better job.

    To move up I needed a 4 year degree. A precedent had been set years ago where a person working on their Bachelor’s could be hired. I went online, started looking for schools. NLC popped up. A labor oriented school that looked to share my progressive values. Affordable and thanks to the low residency requirement, do-able. I registered and began classes.

    It has been a challenge, you know what I mean because you are active in your Union, you work your job, live life with family and friends and you do your coursework. Or should I say “did”, because we are there! We made it!

  2. What would it mean to you to be your classes speaker?
    Being class speaker would be a chance to touch base with a number of people who have touched my life in a meaningful and powerful way. Members of our graduating class have been instrumental in helping me help my local and helped set the stage for my being active in both my state Union and the New Hampshire AFL-CIO. It would be meaningful to acknowledge the NLC community as a catalyst in my life, while urging folks to stay in touch and stay active, it looks like we may have a bumpy ride ahead that only our (active members of the labor movement) solidarity and collective activity can help.I look at the other nominees, among them my brother Mark Day, Tina Davis, Gary Kloepfer, Joy Crom and Aldo Zambetti – these are people I know and admire, and are, without doubt, better at speaking in public than I am. The art of public speaking is a skill I need to acquire, LOL, I might turn out to be just a really sincere and blubbering mess.If I am voted to speak, I will do my best to share some thoughts that I feel are really important.
  3. What does your NLC degree mean to you?
    My NLC degree to me is a symbol of my ability to set a goal and see it through, no matter what obstacles presented themselves. I have had the privilege of studying under some amazing imparters of both knowledge and enthusiasm, professors and instructors that Live Labor, long term veterans of workers struggles for a fair shake that happened to also be top notch educators. My hope is that as I build a personal future and work for justice for working people I can pass this gift along.My NLC degree in Labor Studies has given me the knowledge and background to more effectively serve my local, my Union and the AFL-CIO as I pitch in to work for a better future for my grandson- and yours too!I guess that, in a way, makes my degree a sort of “keys to the kingdom”.
  4. If you had to retake one class, which would it be?
    It is hard to pinpoint one class. Any class by Pete Hoefer or Katherine Schaccitono would fill the bill. If I were to choose one class it would be Employment and Labor Law. I groused about buying a 180 dollar textbook, but I go back to it here and there. Foundational stuff when working toward justice in the workplace! Pat Greenfield was an amazing instructor for it.


David Marland

NLC Journey

My name is David Marland and I am currently the Training Coordinator for Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 51 in East Providence, Rhode Island. I have been a member of the United Association for 32 years now and my trade is a pipefitter. I have been married for 28 years to my high school sweetheart, Sandy and we have two children, Jessica, 26 and Daniel, 23. I have a wonderful family and they have always been my biggest supporters.

Being nominated to be a speaker of my graduation class is an honor all in of itself but to actually have the opportunity to speak aloud in front of my graduating class would mean the world to me. It would be the icing on the cake and the culmination of a long and exciting journey that I never imagined I would take and one that has really just begun. As I watched my children grow and go on to college, I started to really question why I never took the opportunity to go to school and graduate myself. I always instilled in my children, the idea that there isn’t anything they can’t do if they work hard and put their minds to it. I wanted them to know that they are capable of anything and should strive to fulfill all of their goals to the best of their ability. I wanted my children to live a life with no regrets. But then what about me? How could I tell them to live their lives this way and to believe in themselves and then me not follow through with my own advice and live my life the same way?

When I was younger, I never thought school was for me. My father was a pipefitter by trade and growing up, I learned a lot from him. Working with my hands and assisting my father became a strong interest of mine. I was good at it and at 19 years old, after graduating from high school, college never even crossed my mind. I knew what I wanted to do with my life and I so I moved forward with my training to become a Pipefitter with the UA. I started off as an Apprentice, worked hard through all of my training and became a Journeyman. I never missed work and was happy to put in the extra time to help whenever and wherever I could. My hard work and attention to detail didn’t go un-noticed as I was soon promoted to Foreman. I worked my way up through the ranks and here I am today as the Training Coordinator for Local 51. I have never felt so at home with my position. I’m not sure about how many people can actually say they love their job, but I honestly do. I love having the opportunity to work with kids and watch them grow and succeed. Unfortunately, there was only so much I could teach them based on what I knew and what I was capable of. I wanted to learn more and more importantly, I wanted to fill a hole I’d been missing since I was 19 years old. And so what started as an initial goal to get my associates degree, soon turned into an obsession to graduate with my bachelors.

My journey in the NLC has been full of many challenges and obstacles but has also offered many rewards. Working full-time meant that I had to take all of my classes at night. It made for long and exhausting days but I worked through it and managed my time wisely. I studied wherever and whenever I could and I was never afraid to ask for help. I didn’t just want to pass my classes, I wanted the information to sink in and I wanted to understand the literature I was studying. The way I see it, if I don’t understand something myself how and I ever going to use it or pass the information along? Sure enough, my efforts paid off and with every class I took, I realized that I gained something new which has allowed me to do my job better than I had before.

The one class I would re-take would be Labor and the Economy because I found myself relating to it the most. Being from a strong union family myself, this class really hit home. I have a passion for what I do and believe in the power of unions and everything they stand for. Seeing what people in this country have to go through just to get by and survive is scary. Unions were built to help protect the workingman and allow them the simple things that many take for granted. The Big Squeeze, was one of the books I read while taking this course and it put things into perspective for me. I never fully appreciated the opportunities Unions have offered to myself and fellow members until I got to understand life in corporate world and the negative effects it has on the working man. In the Union, we are all-American and we work together as a family. We stay united and we help each other. I’ve made a very honest living working in the Union and I’m always willing to lend a helping hand.

Having a Bachelors degree means more than words can express. Being 52 years old and going back to school has been more satisfying than I would have ever thought possible. I’ve now watched both of my children graduate college from the University of Rhode Island and witnessing them walk across that stage was one of the proudest moments in my life. Now it’s my turn. I finally have the opportunity to put on a cap and gown and hold my head high knowing that I really am capable of anything I put my mind to. June 23rd can’t come soon enough and knowing that my family, my cheerleaders, will be there with me to share in the moment is more than I could ever ask for.

Thank you for your time and consideration
David Marland, Class of 2012

Kevin Shane McCall

  1. Tell us about yourself.
    I am an individual, I am a husband, I am a best friend, I am a son, I am a brother, I am an uncle, I am a member of the IBEW, I am a community committee person, I am a member of freemasonry & come June 23, 2012 I will be a college graduate of the National Labor College.
  2. What would it mean to you to be your class’s speaker?
    To be the or one of the class speakers for the 2012 National Labor College Class would be a great honor and privilege as it would signify the collective decision of the majority which symbolizes democracy which is a foundation block of a strong labor movement joined in solidarity.
  3. Tell us about your NLC “journey.”
    I began my course study at the College in the fall of 2008 taking course in Grassroots Leadership & Leadership Theory. Two courses that supported my contribution to local grassroots campaign participation in the most historical Presidential campaign of my lifetime. I then began taking courses that associated with law & its application to the labor movement and working class individuals. These courses provided tremendous historical insight into the role that the law has contributed to the struggles and victories of an evolutionary labor movement. These courses also sparked and set fire to my decision in pursuing a law degree following my journey at the National Labor College.The economy and its impact on the building trades provided a bit of a roadblock in my studies as it introduced a period of unemployment and financial strain that kept me from keeping on a steady course of action. With the support of my amazing wife and our decision to choice the most valuable way to spend the monies we were earning, We, I decided it was education that would prove to be the best investment, maybe not immediately but in the future, far and near.I also experienced a wrongful termination for reporting a safety issue in 2009 which became a 23 month long experience of working with the Department of Labor/OSHA and my local union to victoriously reward workers for standing up for their rights to a health and safe working environment. That particular experience I owe a lot of gratitude toward Carol Oppenheimer and Morty Simon who were teaching an Employment Rights course and provided a tremendous amount of information, encouragement and experience of being proactive in the area of workers’ rights. Their experiences as attorneys in the labor movement are invaluable to the movement as well as to the College and the men and women that have the opportunity to work with them.I also have to acknowledge the academic experience that was had with Peter Hoefer who encouraged the students to step outside their boxes and view the labor movement from the outside- in during the History of Labor and Law course. I found this course rewarding through the better understand of the importance to not only understand Labor’s responsibility to utilizing the laws but also understanding the importance of how and why it’s just important to understand how the opposition to labor utilizes the law.One of the biggest challenges faced at the National Labor College was trying to get out of Maryland after encountering one of the most record breaking winter storms.The College offered many rewards in my academic journey. The National Labor College provides a very unique educational experience through being a purely union based & labor movement influence institution. The College offered the exposure to a diverse level of union experiences in either classroom or online environment. The College provided opportunity for union members from an array of industries to engage in a learning environment designed to give the labor movement the opportunity to provide intelligent and active union members the opportunity to earn their college degree with the encouragement that it would lead to expanding the presence of union people in society. The greatest reward I can say is the one in which I look forward to receiving on June 23, 2012, my Bachelor’s degree. The National Labor College is an experience of my Life that I will forever be grateful and proud to be a representative of for the remainder of my academic journey and career.
  4. What does your NLC degree mean to you?
    My degree from the National Labor College represents a milestone in Life, the opportunity to move forward toward the next set of goals which lie before me. TThe degree I receive from the National Labor College is a threshold that has been long overdue in my Life. It symbolizes the journey toward accomplishing the goals for which I have set out for myself & the experiences of belonging to a movement of working class individuals who have been provided the opportunity to learn from each other and all that is our movement.
  5. If you could re-take ONE class, which one would it be and why?
    I think that there is not one particular class I could choose to take over, each course provided such an abundance of knowledge and experience that I embraced all of them & am pleased with each of them. I am interested in taking courses regarding arbitration & grievance filing along with the application to law school as the National Labor College would be a great platform to learn the inner workings of handling such matters from labor friendly perspective through the instruction by very experience and seasoned labor experienced instructors.


Kathy Vigardt

  1. Tell us about yourself. 
    Hi, my name is Kathy Vigardt and I reside in Mahomet, Illinois; a small town 100 miles south of Chicago. I am currently on staff with the Illinois Education Association (IEA) and have been for the past five years. Prior to this, I was a member and leader of the Champaign Educational Support Professionals/IEA/NEA for 22 years. I held just about every position in my 500 member local which included organizing chair, grievance chair, vice-president, and president. I also served in the capacity of chief negotiator for 20 years, bargaining nine successor collective bargaining agreements for fifteen diverse classifications of employees.My most notable accomplishment is raising my five amazing children as a single parent. My three daughters have their Masters in Social Work, and my oldest daughter has recently been accepted into a Ph.D. program. My oldest son is also a college graduate and my youngest is currently working on his Bachelors. He took a break from getting his degree in order to serve our country for six years, which included three tours of duty in Iraq.
  2. What would it mean to you to be your class’s speaker?
    It would be such an incredible honor and I would be humbled if you choose me to represent you as our class speaker. Through Moodle, I had the great privilege of meeting and working with most of you. I couldn’t have asked for more fantastic classmates. Attending online classes at NLC has been a terrific experience that I owe in large part to each of you who became a part of my life through our college courses.My children will be traveling from all over the country in order to support me during the commencement ceremony. My youngest two will be traveling from Colorado, my twins are coming from Oregon, and my oldest from Virginia. My mom and sisters will also be flying in from Chicago. None of us can afford to make this trip but my children are very proud of me and were very persistent that I partake in the graduation activities. They insisted that we could not afford to miss this once in a lifetime opportunity and they wanted to see their mom “walk the stage”. It would warm my heart and make me so happy to be able to surprise them as class speaker. They have given me so much encouragement and support throughout these past three years as I pursued my degree. I would love nothing more than to see the look of pride, admiration and surprise on their faces when my name is announced as class speaker.
  3. Tell us about your NLC “journey.”
    In April, 2009, at the age of 56, I applied for the professional staff position of UniServ Director with the Illinois Education Association. Once I was granted an interview, I was fairly confident that I would get the position as I thought myself very qualified. Since I was already on staff with IEA and had a great reputation as a knowledgeable, hard worker, I felt I was the best person for the job. Imagine my pain and disappointment when I was told that even though I met all the qualifications of the position, management had decided on a new requirement for all professional staff; a four year degree. All of my hopes were dashed; because of life circumstances, I never had the opportunity to attend college so didn’t even have three credits to call my own. I was ready to give up and resign myself to being an associate for the rest of my career.When my supervisor strongly encouraged me to get my degree, I told him that I could never do it. I wasn’t a very good student in high school and that was over forty years ago. There was no way I would ever be able to take college courses and succeed. However, he wouldn’t let up and had actually researched online degrees for me. Since I grew up in a union family, belonged to a union for over twenty years, and was now on staff for a union, the National Labor College definitely caught my interest. The thought of actually taking classes in labor and unionism, something I loved, lived, and breathed, was very exciting…however, I still didn’t think I was capable of going back to school. The required classes for a BA in Union Leadership and Administration were the very same skills and qualifications needed to be a great UniServ Director. I was very interested when reading the syllabus of many of the classes and my awareness was aroused greatly.Financially, I could probably swing it because the Illinois Education Association had offered to pay half my tuition and I qualified for financial aid for the other half. I was concerned about taking out more loans because I was already in heavy debt from financially supporting five children; add to that, my son’s cancer and helping my children with their college expenses. On top of my already insurmountable debt, the housing bubble occurred and my home was suddenly “under water”. However, if getting my degree would ultimately result in a much higher paid position, I could hopefully soon see some relief to the enormous debt.After talking extensively with my NLC advisor, we decided that my first step for summer semester 2009 would be to work on a three credit course, proving my experiential life experience in specific college level courses to gain an additional 30 credits. Amazingly, by the time summer semester ended, I had accumulated 33 credit hours. This gave me the confidence I needed to continue with my studies.The next semester, I began very tentatively taking only two classes because I still didn’t have enough faith in myself to be successful in school. My time was limited because of my job which often takes me on the road, personal life, and volunteer activities. I learned very quickly that discipline was the key to my success. When others were having fun and I wanted to join them, or I just wanted to chill in front of the TV, it was imperative that I regimented myself to always put my schoolwork first. I was totally blown away when I received my final semester grades and earned an A in both classes.After the first semester, I increased my workload by taking four, sometimes five classes a semester. I conditioned myself to always working on class reading assignments, Moodle postings, and homework assignments. After receiving the first two A’s, I set my standards very high by telling myself I had to maintain a perfect grade point average. I’m still in shock and find it so very hard to believe that I ended my last semester with receiving all A’s in every class I took to earn my degree. If I can manage getting straight A’s throughout my college years, anyone can!I know that I never would have successfully completed my degree without the love, support, and encouragement of my family. My husband was all but ignored these past three years, yet was my biggest fan. Whenever I felt that a class was too hard and I would never receive a passing grade, his encouragement and confidence in me is what kept me going. My children were a constant inspiration for me. They never missed an opportunity to tell me how very proud they were of me and how amazing they thought I was to take on this responsibility on top of everything else. Without the love and support of my family, the amazing classmates that I’ve met over these past three years, and some really awesome professors, I would never have achieved this goal.
  4. What does your NLC degree mean to you?
    My BA in Union Leadership and Administration is my future and it has helped define where my life is going. My degree has given me the education I needed to overcome the obstacles that were standing in my way to succeed further in my employment. Taking classes at NLC has built on my character and made me a better person. When I originally began to pursue my degree, it was so that I could acquire the “piece of paper” required by my employer for a particular job that greatly interested me. Little did I know that I was actually beginning an incredible journey that has shaped me and allowed me to grow in ways I never dreamed imaginable. My NLC degree has unlocked the door to so many opportunities above and beyond my original expectations.
  5. If you could re-take ONE class, which one would it be and why?
    Wow, this is a tough question. ALL of my classes were so beneficial and complimented each other. However, if I have to choose one, it would be Leadership Theory. It is difficult to summarize the tremendous value the strategies learned in this class have had on me; how it has impacted my work and way of thinking. Rather than react to situations that may occur, this class taught me the importance of being proactive. If I am to be a good leader, I need to be able to observe not only my surroundings, but the people around me. More critical than simply observing, I learned to actively listen to everyone; other leaders, the rank and file, community and church members, as well as management.Thanks to all that I learned from the reading materials, my fellow classmates, and Robin Cavanaugh, my professor, I now understand the importance of truly caring for and learning about my members and their needs through active listening. I hope to never again assume to know what my members want or need. This class taught me that leaders are not born, but are cultivated by the mistakes of others and using those mistakes as guidelines to become a better leader. Thanks to this class, I learn and grow every day, from my own mistakes and aspire to be a transformational leader.


Eddie Lee Williams

  1. Tell us about yourself.
    I am currently serving as Vice President/Secretary Treasurer at Local 527-S at Graphics Communications. Recently I was elected as a General Board member of the southern region of the union. I have been a Union activist and a loyal member for over 24 years now and even as a 22 year-old, working in the shop, I helped grow and maintain a high membership at the company I worked for. Ever since I knew what the Union was about, I have had Union in my blood.
  2. What would it mean to you to be your class’s speaker?
    I would be honored to be elected to be my class’s speaker because I feel that I represent what the union stands for. In my current position, I negotiate every day for the rights of my union brethren. Employers are not as willing to negotiate now as they were twenty years ago. I fight hard for every contractual factor because I know how each factor impacts the daily lives of union workers. I believe that I was born to fight for the rights of union workers and I take that responsibility very seriously. I am proud to have earned my Labor Studies degree so I can fight even harder for the union.
  3. Tell us about your NLC “journey.”
    I started working at the Quality Park Products at the age of 22 and have held many positions over the years, such as, Steward, Chapel Chairman, Executive Board Member, Health & Safety Training Facilitator, Organizer/Business Agent and now Vice President/Secretary Treasurer of Local 527-S.When I first started at the Quality Park Products, I remember seeing older workers being treated unfairly and wondering why they did not stand up for themselves. After speaking with them, I realized they were afraid of the possible consequences of standing up for themselves. I started speaking with union members and realized that unions were representative of the workers and the rights that they were entitled to. There was no need for fear with the union behind them. After I joined and became active in the union, I saw the difference in how the older workers were treated. With the union behind them, they realized that they were entitled to specific rights and that the union would fight for those rights. That was my first taste of the union brotherhood and I have never turned back. No matter how difficult it gets sometimes, I remember my first experience and those older workers and continue to fight on.
  4. What does your NLC degree mean to you?
    I have always fought tirelessly for the union brotherhood. The NLC Labor Studies degree means that I can now fight for the rights of our union members with the knowledge, history and that I have learned. Some of the classes I have taken include Union Administration, Employment Rights, Union Structure and Governance, Effective Leadership and Labor Leadership and Landmark events. These classes have cemented my labor foundation and have allowed me to build my skills as an effective leader, skillful negotiator and leader.
  5. If you could re-take ONE class, which one would it be and why?
    I would retake Labor Law. I did not receive an A and would work harder to get that grade. I believe as union leaders it is important for us to not only understand the history of unions but to also understand the laws that impact the labor movement. There are many laws that are currently being passed that are stripping rights from workers. By understanding these laws, I will be a better union leader and can make more of a difference for our brotherhood.