There are close to 20 labor unions located in a 1.5 mile radius of the University of Massachusetts Boston's waterfront campus. And the university houses a growing Labor Resource Center.
"So it was about time we got together," Susan Moir, director of the Labor Resource Center, said.
Area union representatives, city and state legislators, and labor students and researchers came together at the Campus Center on March 2 to celebrate this relationship between labor and the city's only public university at the UMass Boston Labor-Neighbor Breakfast. It was a chance for the university to reassert its commitment to working with labor unions, and to provide more information on the latest course offerings and research coming out of the Labor Resource Center.
The timing was purely coincidental.
"We've had this breakfast in the works for months now, so it's just a coincidence that we're here to celebrate our relationship with labor while hundreds of thousands of public employees have been fighting for their right to collective bargaining in Wisconsin," Chancellor J. Keith Motley said.
"But the events of the last couple of weeks have also inspired the University of Massachusetts Boston ... As we upgrade and expand our campus facilities, and redefine our presence here on Columbia Point, we're looking forward to a harmonious working relationship with our labor union neighbors."
Chancellor Motley was referring to the university's Project Labor Agreement. As UMass Boston moves forward with a master plan that includes the construction of an Integrated Sciences Complex, general academic building, and eventually residence halls, all projects -- large and small -- are exclusively reserved for union shops.
"This agreement is good for the university, good for workers, and good for our community," he said.
Several city and state officials attended the breakfast. State Representative Marty Walsh, who is also a Labor Resource Center Advisory Board member, spoke to the importance of educating the next generation about labor unions. Also in attendance were Boston City Councilor Maureen Feeney, an alumna of the Labor Resource Center, State Representative Nick Collins, City Councilor Felix Arroyo, State Representative Russell Holmes, and state Secretary of Labor Joanne Goldstein.
Director Susan Moir had several announcements to share about the Labor Resource Center. For the first time since its opening in 1981, the center was able to hire its first dedicated Labor Studies professor, Jeff Crosby, president of the IUE-CWA Local 201 and the North Shore Labor Council.
The center is also expanding its Labor Studies Program. While it currently provides the only Labor Studies Bachelor's degree program in New England and a professional certificate in Labor Studies and Leadership, the Labor Resource Center will soon also offer a Labor Studies minor.
"This will make labor studies accessible and available to young people across the campus," Moir said. "Now more students will learn about the need for unions and the history and role of unions in this country."
The center, which is housed in the College of Public and Community Service, also makes available non-credit, community-based worker education provided by the Labor Extension Program.
To learn more about the latest happenings at the UMass Boston Labor Resource Center, read the center's 2010-2011 Strategic Plan. To view photos from the Labor-Neighbor Breakfast, visit the UMass Boston Flickr site.