UMass Boston

The Boston Labor Conference

The Boston Labor Conference 2025

The 2025 Boston Labor Conference will take place on March 8th.


Stay tuned for the Call for Proposals announcement in Fall 2024!

Boston Labor Conference 2024

Boston Labor Conference 2024
Labor and the State Today

Questions of whether and how organized workers should engage the state are as old as the labor movement. Still, the pitfalls and possibilities of this engagement have been particularly stark in 2023. Amid a generational upsurge in militant labor action, a sitting president joined a picket line for the first time, just months after the Supreme Court reaffirmed its willingness to dismantle settled labor law on behalf of its billionaire benefactors. The most labor-friendly NLRB in decades has supported a wave of new union elections while Amazon and Starbucks brazenly flout the Board’s limited power to punish union busting. Labor-led coalitions have elected progressive city councilors and mayors promising reinvestment in the public good, even as the far right works to strip elected representatives of power and entrench minority rule through state-level gerrymandering and judicial chicanery. As the 2024 presidential election looms, the fraught relationship between labor and government is as crucial as ever. 

Labor and the State Today
MARCH 30, 2024
8:30am to 5:00pm

Carpenters Center
750 Dorchester Ave.

8:30–9:00 Light Breakfast

9:00–9:20 Opening Remarks

Steve Striffler, Labor Resource Center, UMass Boston Chrissy Lynch, President, Massachusetts AFL-CIO

9:30–11:00               Session One
1A: Unions + Community = Power    

                                     Chair: Anneta Argyres

Cynthia Roy                (New Bedford Coalition to Save Our Schools)
Bryan Gangemi          (New Bedford Coalition to Save Our Schools)
Gino Canella              (Emerson College)
Matt Bach                  (Andover Education Association)
Jessica Wender-Shubow (Massachusetts Teachers Association - Retired)

1B: Making the State Work for Labor

                                 Chair: Alejandro Reuss

Savannah Hunter             (UC Berkeley Labor Center)
Aida Farmand                  (UC Berkeley Labor Center)
Harris Gruman                 (SEIU – Massachusetts)
Aaron Tanaka                   (Center for Economic Democracy)
Caleb Smith                      (Mt. Holyoke College)

11:00 – 11:15 BREAK

11:15 – 12:45

Session Two

2A: Labor and the Electoral Path

                          Chair: Nicole Aschoff

Jeremy DaCruz                      (Chap 3, Nat’l Conf of Firemen and Oilers, SEIU/32BJ)
Enid Eckstein                         (Raise UP Massachusetts)
Rand Wilson                          (CHIPS Communities United)
Sam Goldstein                      (SEIU and Our Revolution – Medford)

2B: Common Good for the Common Good

                                             Chair: Nick Juravich

Kevin O’Brien                     (Worx Printing Union)

James Razsa                       (Democracy Brewing)

May                                   (Circus Cooperative Café)

Sarah Assefa                    (Coalition for Worker Ownership and Power/CED)
James Cordero                (Boston Teachers Union)
Lew Finfer                        (Massachusetts Action for Justice)

12:45 – 1:30 LUNCH

1:30 – 2:45 Session Three

3A: Us Too: Feminized Labor Organizing for Power
                                                  Chair: Elizabeth Pellerito

Mia Michael                 (Wayne State University)

Lenita Reason               (Brazilian Worker Center)

André Simões               (Brazilian Worker Center)

Thomas Adams            (University of South Alabama)

3B: Industrial Policy and Labor Power
                                               Chair: Caleb Smith
Anibel Ferus-Comelo           (UC Berkeley Labor Center)
Christian Gonzalez               (IUE-CWA, Local 301 – Schenectady, NY)
Sean Sweeney                      (Trade Unions for Energy Democracy)

Maddock Thomas                (Brown University)

2:45 – 3:00 BREAK

3:00 – 4:30 Session Four

                                         Chair: Steve Striffler

Max Page                      (President, Massachusetts Teachers Association)
Deb McCarthy               (Vice President, Massachusetts Teachers Association)
Rakim Brooks                (President, Alliance for Justice)
Gwen Mills                    (Secretary-Treasurer, UNITE HERE)
Lane Windham              (Georgetown University)