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SUNY Cortland to spotlight labor on April 27

SUNY Cortland departments and organizations will host “Labor Spring,” a daylong event series including teach-ins, a poster session and a pro-labor activity, on Thursday, April 27, at various campus locations.

The event series, inspired by a nationwide worker justice movement of the same name, will spotlight the many U.S. working people who are organizing for a multiracial democracy.

Planned events include:

  • 10 to 11 a.m.: Communication Studies Poster Session. The event will focus on the recent European labor uprising. Posters will be on display throughout the day on the Corey Union first floor.
  • Noon to 1 p.m.: “Union Matters meeting.” This United University Professions (UUP) members gathering will be hosted in Corey Union Function Room.
  • 1:30 to 3 p.m.: “Labor Spring” panel. The discussion in Corey Union Fireplace Lounge aims to place the current state of the labor movement into historical context. Panelists will include a union member from Starbucks Workers United (SBWU), Ithaca, N.Y.; a veteran union activist; and SUNY Cortland faculty members. Light refreshments will be served.
  • 3 to 4 p.m.: Pro-Union Rally. Hosted by United University Professions, the event will begin in the Corey Union lower patio.
  • 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.: Annual DiNardo and Waring Lecture. Rhiannon Maton, an associate professor in SUNY Cortland’s Foundations and Social Advocacy Department, will speak on “Fighting for the Schools Our Students Deserve: Educator Union Organizing for Social Justice” in Sperry Center, Room 104.

Participants are encouraged to wear red that day. To find out more about this movement, visit the Labor Spring national website, To learn more about the campus events, contact Storch or visit Twitter at @SUNY Cortland under the hashtag #LaborSpring.

Public support for unionism is at a historic high, with 71 percent approval of unions, the highest level since 1965, said organizer Randi Storch, a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor, History Department faculty member and labor historian.

“Our students’ lives will be directly affected in one way or another by the outcomes of current labor uprisings among teachers, faculty, students, and workers places like Starbucks and Amazon,” Storch said.

“Labor Spring is an opportunity to raise awareness and to connect our students to these larger worker issues and movements,” she said.

“At the same time, our very own United University Professions is engaged in contract negotiations with the state. Labor Spring will be an important opportunity to help students understand how our union is working to bargain for the common good and how today’s worker movement is thinking beyond the bargaining unit.”

According to a website for the national Labor Spring initiative, developed by Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, the global pandemic motivated desire among working people for more power on the job and in their communities.

“Their efforts build, in part, on a newfound public appreciation for labor unions that developed out of a celebration of essential workers and a subsequent dismay for essential workers’ poor working conditions,” the site notes.

“The events nationwide aim to draw attention to and educate our community about current labor campaigns, key historical moments for workers, the centrality of racial and gender equity in the worker justice movement, and the importance of the current moment in our country’s labor history,” Storch said.

“Labor Spring” is co-sponsored by the university’s departments of History, Communication Studies, Sociology/Anthropology, and Economics; and by UUP, Public Employees Federation (PEF), Institute for Civic Engagement, Cultural and Intellectual Climate Committee, Institutional Equity and Inclusion Office, Center for Gender and Intercultural Studies, Student Government Association and Black Student Union.

Maton’s talk is supported by the Dr. Peter A. DiNardo ’68 and Judith Waring Outstanding Achievement in Research Award, which since 2015 has recognized SUNY Cortland faculty’s research outside the classroom. Waring endowed the award with a gift to the Cortland College Foundation to honor her late husband, whose remarkable 34-year teaching career strongly influenced the modern, international clinical practice of psychology in the areas of fear, panic and anxiety.