UMass Amherst
The Labor Center Logo

What Students Say about the Labor Center

"My experience at the Labor Center allows me to bring a critical, progressive perspective to my work as an organizer. Having been exposed to the various aspects that comprise today's labor movement, I feel well prepared to handle my duties as a union organizer. With an emphasis on the need for strategic research and planning for organizing, the multitude of organizing methods and theories, and the way organizing and contract bargaining go hand in hand, the Labor Center covered all the relevant topics.  As a part of the next generation of union staff, we need to be exposed to the changes, discussions, and new ideas that are percolating throughout our movement, and that is what the Labor Center emphasizes.  This experience, coupled with a very knowledgeable and involved faculty, was crucial and comes highly recommended." 

Rafal Dobrowolski, '08, External Organizer, SEIU Local 99, Los Angeles, CA


"The Labor Center was the absolute best launching pad into the field of work that I wanted to do.  The Center gives us a strong foundation to take on issues domestically and internationally.  Their support allowed me to travel around the world and compare different labor movements and the policies that affect them.  I couldn't have made a better choice!"

Edgar Chen, '08, Corporate Researcher, Massachusetts Nurses Association


"The Labor Center provided me a unique opportunity to continue student activism while taking classes that allowed me to study the kinds of social movements we need to build. The students and faculty have a real commitment to social and economic justice, and this means that the program is about much more than getting a degree."

Mishy Leiblum, '08, Organizer, UNITE HERE, Northern Virginia


"My time at the Labor Center was invaluable. The inspiring and supportive environment gave me a theoretical framework for how to think about contemporary work issues, as well as a grounding in practical, hands-on case studies, law briefs, organizing models, and the daily experiences of workers.  I was challenged to think about the many faces of the labor movement, both in the U.S. and abroad, as well as how creativity and hard work are the skills that all of us can bring to the table.  Whenever I meet someone who knows how special the program is, we have an instant bond as part of a broader struggle, committed to the movement for justice and respect for workers as well as an appreciation of the unique training, teaching and learning that happens only at the Labor Center."

Kate Maich, '07, Doctoral candidate, Department of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley


"The Labor Center's Masters program is the best in the country for students looking to study and become involved in the labor movement.  The faculty-all experienced union activists and respected scholars-bring a deep range of knowledge and experience to the classroom, offering opportunities to explore both theoretical issues as well as the nuts and bolts of trade unionism.   Additionally when you join the program you get plugged into a network of people that is invaluable for those looking to work and thrive in the labor movement.  My years at the Labor Center not only helped me develop the skills to work in my chosen profession, they provided me with the relationships and connections to build a career." 

Mike Rabourn, '07, Research Specialist, New England Regional Council of Carpenters, Springfield, MA 


"My experience at the Labor Center was both challenging and nurturing. Over my two years in the program, I learned from faculty, staff and fellow students as we grappled with theoretical problems and real-life examples from labor movements. I learned a lot. I grew a lot. Faculty members helped me to think critically and articulate my opinions on important issues relating to unions and labor."

Rachael Running, '05, Policy Program Associate, Front Range Economic Strategy Center


"The Labor Center faculty members are among the best in their field. They practice what they teach. There is a depth of understanding because they continue to be active in the labor movement. No ivory tower Pollyannaisms here. This has been the finest academic experience in my career as a worker and a student."

Diane Scherrer, '04, Community Organizer, Massachusetts Nurses Association


"The Labor Center provided a space for frank theoretical debate as well as a place for hands-on strategic research and action regarding today's public sector. My personal experiences while at the Labor Center prepared me for both analysis of and action against the near omnipresent 'budget cuts' facing the public sector in the United States today."

Robert Caldwell, '03, United Teachers or New Orleans/AFT


"The Labor Center is one of the few places students and activists can call home and think creatively about the necessity to organize and put the movement back into the labor movement."

David de Hoyos, '03, Researcher, SEIU Local 1877 Justice for Janitors, San Diego


"The Labor Center program provides an essential balance between academic and practical hands-on training. I was able to work on current union campaigns while getting the framework for where today's struggles come from and where we need to get to. My education at the Labor Center prepared me to get into the field and win campaigns that build workers' power toward our long-term goals of social and economic justice."

Pilar Schiavo, '03, Political Director, San Francisco Labor Council, AFL-CIO


"Without the Labor Center and its faculty, I would have never gained the skills to fight the increasing attacks and exploitation of immigrant workers in the construction industry. Attending the Labor Center is by far one of the best decisions I've ever made, and I've brought the values and commitment that the faculty taught me into what is considered the conservative arm of the labor movement. I will always be grateful for the opportunity the Center gave me."

Sean Barrett, '02, Head Researcher/Organizer, Mountain West Regional Council of Carpenters, Denver, CO


"The Labor Center provided me with the tools that I use every day in collective bargaining, researching employers, and organizing. The Center is an essential part of Labor's fight for dignity and respect for working families.

Jeff Balfour, '00, UAW Research Department


"At the Labor Center, I learned what it takes to fight for the union cause in the 21st Century. Not only did we learn important skills, we were filled with the passion to battle in the streets if necessary."

Patrick Cowley, '97, SEIU Local 767


"The Labor Relations and Research Center is a wonderful place for people who are serious about working in the Labor Movement of today and the future. It's so much more than just a classroom experience. My internship gave me the opportunity to get involved in hands-on organizing, research, member mobilization, and coalition-building."

Erin Enwright, '97, Organizer, Council 93, AFSCME


"As a Research Analyst for SEIU, I rely upon the skills I learned at the Labor Center every day. During my time at the Labor Center, I built a network of peers (both classmates and alumni) who I am now able to call upon for ideas and support."

Ian Campbell, '96, Research Analyst, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)


"One of the best life decisions I ever made was to attend the Labor Center. As a Staff Representative for the Massachusetts Teacher's Association I'm often asked how I was able to get the position I have. It was definitely from attending the Labor Center."

Michelle Gallagher, '93, Staff Representative, Massachusetts Teacher's Association (MTA)


"This is a labor studies program for, by, and about labor. Nothing else equals what happens at UMASS. You don't have to go out of your way to carve out a labor program. It's all there. That's what I think is exciting."

Gordon McClelland, '90, Labor Educator, Cornell University

UMass Seal