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Watch: Forum on the Future of the Labor Movement

Watch the first of our new forum series, a “Forum on Labor’s Future.”

On March 14th, Voices for New Democracy hosted its first event of a new forum series with a “Forum on Labor’s Future,” featuring a panel of organizers with extensive and diverse experience in the labor movement.

Through presentations and discussion, the forum covered key questions including the historical trajectory of the labor movement, new challenges and opportunities, the relationship of labor to ongoing social justice movements, the international context, and strategies for union transformation.

Watch the full presentations and learn about the panelists below.

JOE ALVAREZ

Joe is a veteran labor leader, organization development expert, and visionary labor educator. After a 30-year history in social justice activism and labor organizing, he co-founded the Alvarez Porter Group in 2007 to help leaders and organizations work effectively toward creating a just, equitable and sustainable world.  As an organization development practitioner, Joe specializes in developing leadership in others and in helping unions and social change organizations be visionary, adaptive, and effective.

Joe is a fellow of Cornell University’s Worker Institute. He was the Northeast Regional Director of the AFL-CIO before pursuing a graduate degree in leadership and organizational development. Joe designed and co-led the AFL-CIO’s “New Alliance” program, a major state-by-state campaign to revitalize and reorganize state and local AFL-CIO bodies.  In 2000, he helped found the NY State AFL-CIO/Cornell University Union Leadership Institute, where he still teaches. Since its inception in 2013, he has been a co-designer and core faculty of the AFL-CIO’s National Labor Leadership Institute. He has taught courses in union leadership and management at U-Mass Amherst, City University of New York, and at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.  Joe is a consultant for SEIU’s BOLD Center, and a member of the NTL Institute for Applied Behavioral Sciences.

CAROLYN KAZDIN

Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Carolyn Kazdin served as Representative in Brazil for the Solidarity Center, AFL-CIO from 1997 to 2005. She continued to work in Brazil for the United Steelworkers (USW) for the next 5 years, before moving to Pittsburgh, PA, to join the Strategic Campaigns department.

A graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo, Carolyn served in the Peace Corps in Bahia, Brazil Back in the USA, she worked in government, in politics, and in the trade union movement. Carolyn worked on Capitol Hill with Congressman Bernie Sanders, and in the presidential campaigns of Reverend Jesse Jackson. In addition, she served as Legislative Director for the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (now UNITE HERE).

Capital is global, and labor needs to be global too. Carolyn’s work in Brazil has helped demonstrate the importance of communication, strategic planning and joint action among international labor organizations that deal with similar issues and employers. The struggle for workers’ rights and dignity for all peoples is truly global.

During her time at the Solidarity Center, Carolyn worked alongside the United Steelworkers (USW) and various Brazilian unions on multiple international campaigns. Once in Pittsburgh, this important work continued directly in the USW. Carolyn is currently retired from the United Steelworkers (USW) in the USA and Canada.

ERIC GILL

Eric Gill started work in 1976 at the Sheraton Waikiki hotel as part of CWP’s strategic organizing program in Hawaii’s unions.  An activist rank and file leader from the start, he has also served his union in various staff and elected positions over the years. Over the past 21 years, he has been elected eight times as the executive officer of UNITE HERE Local 5.  

An officer of the international union as well, Eric has played a central role in promoting combined action by local UNITE HERE affiliates in multiple cities, most notably the coordinated eight-week strike that 8000 union members in seven local unions successfully conducted against the Marriott Corporation in 2018.   

KENT WONG

Kent Wong is the director of the Labor Center at the University of California, Los Angeles where he teaches Ethnic Studies and Labor Studies. The UCLA Labor Center promotes research, teaching, and policy to advance workers’ rights.

Wong previously worked as staff attorney for the Service Employees International Union in Los Angeles. He was also the first staff attorney for Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Los Angeles. 

Kent Wong was the founding President of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance—the first national organization of Asian American union members and workers. He is a Vice President of the California Federation of Teachers, representing 120,000 teachers and educational workers.

Kent Wong has published more than twelve books on the labor movement, immigrant rights, and the Asian American community.  

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