A Labor Perspective From Paul Cole - American Labor Studies Center Executive Director & Secretary-Treasurer Emeritus Of The New York State AFL-CIO: “The Future Of The American Labor Movement Is In Today's Classrooms”
WNYLaborToday.com Editor’s Note: Paul Cole serves as the Executive Director of the American Labor Studies Center. He is Secretary-Treasurer Emeritus of the New York State AFL-CIO, a former Vice President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and a former Member of the Board of Directors of the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) and National Education Association (NEA).
Recent polling shows young people are increasingly positive about Unions and the role they play supporting Working Families.
In order to take full advantage of this opportunity, the American Labor Studies Center (ALSC) works with America's Teachers through both the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and National Education Association (NEA) and their State and Local Affiliates to provide strategies and resources directly to Teachers to help them integrate the study of the American Labor Movement in their K-12 classrooms.
The ALSC website provides an extensive array of lesson plans, films, documents, simulations on Organizing and Collective Bargaining, Labor songs, photos, Union histories, biographies, links to a myriad of policy and legislative issues and much, much more.
The ALSC also sponsors a Gold Medal and $1000 prize for the best entry on American Labor History in the prestigious National History Day Contest that receives thousands of entries from students all across the country every year.
Unions and their Members can urge local students to work with their Teachers on an entry.
The ALSC also worked with the Boy Scouts to create an American Labor Merit Badge. Scouts can now go to the website to locate a worksheet to help complete the requirements. Many Unions sponsor troops and Unions in Western New York conduct an on-site yearly event where Scouts can attend to complete the badge requirements.
In addition, the ALSC coordinated with the National Baseball Hall of Fame (NBHOF) to create a three-lesson, standards-based unit called Hardball and Handshakes that explores why Major League Baseball Players formed a Union and affiliated with the National AFL-CIO. The NBHOF works directly with teachers on its implementation.
On another front, a major imitative of the ALSC is the purchase and restoration of the Kate Mullany House in Troy, New York.
Mullany was a young Irish Immigrant who organized her fellow Workers into America's first bona-fide all-Female Union in 1864 - the Troy Collar Laundry Union.
Mullany led them on successful strikes and the Union became an integral part of the Labor Movement.
Through the efforts of the ALSC, her home was designated a National Historic Landmark in1998 by the Secretary of the Interior and a National Historic Site (a unit within the National Park Service) by an Act of Congress in 2004.
It is the only one of 88 National Historic Sites that combines a focus on Organized Labor, Women's and Immigrant History.
Plans are also in place to create a National Trade Union Women's Memorial at the site (see website).
On yet another front, the ALSC works with the Labor and Working Class History Association (LAWCHA) and a National Network of State Labor History Associations to promote its mission.
Its only sources of income come from its Annual Awards Ceremony, which be held in Albany, New York on December 15th at the Celtic Hall.
If you would like to support this effort, tickets and Commemorative Journal ads can be purchased by going to the ALSC website.
We ask that you share this message with your affiliated Unions and their Members, as well as with other supporters of the Labor Movement.
You can also contact us if you have any questions.
Thank you in advance for your commitment to ensuring that the future generations of American enter the labor market with an understanding and appreciation of the role that the American Labor Movement plays in our Nation's life.