Tuesday, October 20, 2009

UA Law Students and Worker Justice

At a national law students’ conference presented by the Peggy Browning Fund, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told the nation’s next generation of labor lawyers justice for workers can’t be won unless there are lawyers willing to fight on their behalf:

You’re choosing to follow your conscience, to pursue economic justice and not just to fatten your wallets. There is no higher calling than the one you aspire to—to pursue social and economic justice in our nation, to ensure that we are a nation of equal opportunity.

America’s unions are as vital today as ever in our history, and we need young legal minds like yours to help us spread the word, to make our case. So I invite you to join us, to dedicate your careers to encouraging the practice and procedure of collective bargaining.

Trumka laid out a vision for the future of the labor movement—one that fights to advocate strongly for social and economic justice for everyone. Trumka pledged to make sure all workers have the freedom to form a union, through effective organizing efforts and the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act to reform our broken labor laws. He also pledged to listen closely to the voices of young people and to engage them so that we can build a union movement that stays relevant for generations to come.

Trumka, who received his law degree from Villanova University, praised the late Peggy Browning, a labor lawyer and member of the National Labor Relations Board, and encouraged students to follow in her footsteps. A lawyer fighting on behalf of workers can make a real difference in peoples’ lives, Trumka said, citing his own experiences during the 1989 Pittston strike, when the Mine Workers (UMWA) protected their health benefits and won a fair contract in the face of fierce opposition from both the mine owners and the owners’ allies in local courts.

Students took part in a question-and-answer session at the Saturday event with Trumka, who got a chance to hear their perspectives on the challenges facing the next generation of workers.

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