“I chose to go to law school after being a community organizer with a focused goal — practice labor law and contribute to the labor movement as an attorney. Unlike other students who come to law school unsure of what direction they want to go, I had a plan in place. I knew folks at the Labor Center from my time as an organizer, and that resource is one of the reasons I chose to stay in state and get my law degree here. I knew that I would be able to get experiential education in exactly the kind of law I was interested in, as well as have the opportunity to learn from and connect with experienced labor lawyers. My experience as a Research Assistant at the Labor Center last year reaffirmed that law school is the right choice for me, and especially law school at Iowa. The Labor Center directly serves students like myself with interests in labor history and labor law where other university resources fall short, and is an invaluable part of our U Iowa community.” — Emily Schott, Labor Center Research Assistant, 2017-18, UI College of Law, Class of 2020
“As a research assistant for the Labor Center my third year at Iowa law, I was given the opportunity to do legal research and analysis that directly benefited Iowa workers. This opportunity not only gave me relevant legal experience as a law student, but also allowed me to do the work that brought me to law school in the first place—empowering working class families like mine.” - Joshua Coronado-Moses, Labor Center Research Assistant, 2016-17, JD UI College of Law 2017
“I grew up in a union household in Iowa, graduated in 2013 from the University of Iowa College of Law, and during my final year, served as a research assistant at the UI Labor Center. For the typical law student, the web of statutes and decisions constituting workplace law may create an impression that all workplaces are safe and fair. But a right to unionize does not lead inevitably to unionization; a safe workplace is not the necessary consequence of workplace-safety laws. Part of work of the Labor Center is to close that gap between goal and reality by educating workers. As a research assistant there, I examined issues in arbitration, presented to classes on the FLMA and defamation, wrote materials for a workers’ rights manual, and more. In doing so, I developed vital skills for any practicing lawyer, not available in the classroom. More important, I aided the Labor Center’s talented educators in turning legislative goal into workplace reality—fairer factories, safer plants, better unions. Without exaggeration, it was the most fulfilling experience in my legal education. I hope it is one future law students will have available to them.” – Brandon Underwood, Labor Center Research Assistant, 2012-13, JD UI College of Law 2013
“My two years as a graduate assistant at the Iowa Labor Center were an invaluable part of my legal education at the University of Iowa. Like many Iowans, I was raised in a Union family--my father and grandfather both were Steelworkers at Flexsteel in Dubuque, and I have numerous aunts and uncles who were members of the UAW, IBEW, and the Teamsters. While I grew up knowing that these unions protected the rights of my family members, I did not have any understanding of exactly how they were able to do it. My experience at the Iowa Labor Center allowed me to appreciate the legal underpinnings of the Union Movement, along with how Unions were able to serve my family so well. Additionally, by having the opportunity to teach courses at Iowa Labor Center programs, I was able to improve my advocacy skills and be better prepared to be a true counselor at law for my clients post-graduation.” - Michael Hilkin, Labor Center Research Assistant, 2007-09, JD UI College of Law 2009
“The value the Labor Center provides to Iowans is incalculable. Ideally, the State of Iowa would have a Labor Center with a staff of 50 reaching out to educate workers in all 99 counties about their rights under the law. It is remarkable how such a small program with a staff of five has been able to train and empower workers across Iowa.” – Nate Willems, Labor Center Research Assistant, 2005-07, JD UI College of Law 2007
“I must say, that as an alum (Class of 2005) and a labor lawyer here in Iowa that I am thoroughly disappointed in the University's unbelievably short-sighted decision to shutter the Labor Center. I would strongly urge you to reconsider.” – James Jacobson, Labor Center Research Assistant, 2004-05, JD UI College of Law 2005
“My graduate assistantship at the Labor Center not only taught me invaluable lessons and skills I use every day in my role as in-house counsel for one of the largest companies in our country but it also gave me the unique opportunity to work directly with real people in the state of Iowa who needed my help. I am so grateful for the time I spent working at the Labor Center. It’s an experience I’ll always appreciate and will never forget.” - Teonta A. Williams, Labor Center Research Assistant, 2002-05, JD UI College of Law 2003
“The Labor Center serves to provide education regarding various federal and state laws and regulations to working people. This education is critical to providing working people with the requisite knowledge they need to protect their right and to help assist in protecting the rights of their co-workers. The Labor Center provides necessary educational opportunities to both organized and non-organized workers. Not all workers who a attend a course offered by the Labor Center stay in a collective bargaining unit, but the knowledge gained does stay with the worker. The Labor Center has been working with non-profits, who serve low wage and immigrant workers, faith communities, and other organizations to provide necessary education to workers, especially new workers. This work is of critical importance. - Jay Smith, Labor Center Research Assistant, 2003-04, JD UI College of Law 2004
“The labor educators with whom I have worked and taught have all shared a serious dedication to the Labor Center’s project. Their impact on student/worker participants has always been obvious: educating Iowa union representatives, shop stewards and members alike, was always the Labor Center’s central purpose. Yet the work of the Labor Center and its staff always as well had secondary, if unintended, effects. Like the effect it had on me, opening up a career path I would never have found on my own. The shutting down of the Labor Center at the University of Iowa would be like a city losing a major newspaper, or closing its public library; one more source of public information lost, along with all of the shared personal connections and social capital, now all lost.” - Dennis M. McElwain, Labor Center Research Assistant, 1982-83, JD UI College of Law 1983
Dennis M. McElwain
“During the entire time that I was on the faculty, I worked quite closely with the Labor Center: I presented regularly at their annual workers compensation and steward education programs and served on many search committees for choosing their staff. I am also an amateur labor historian and so have been aware through this whole relationship of the national importance that these programs have played since the 50’s in educating a seriously underserved population. Finally, I want put in a personal plug for the staff at the program: they are exceptional people, especially as teachers. I learned a lot about the pedagogical craft just from being around them.” – John Whiston, Professor Emeritus, College of Law
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