The Labor Studies Program and its student-led Labor Studies Club at California State University, Dominguez Hills presented the Second Annual Labor and Social Justice Fair, on April 28 on campus.
This year’s theme, “Uniting in Times of Crisis, Finding Common Ground” brought together students and community members to learn about issues such as organizing workers, fighting homelessness, encouraging sustainability, and promoting quality education through talks, exhibits, music, and poetry. In addition, 200 students from Miguel Contreras High School and another 100 from Venice High School attended the fair, exposing new students to the labor and social justice community and the CSU Dominguez Hills campus.
Francisca Webb, a senior majoring in interdisciplinary studies and a member of the Labor Studies Club, says that the experience of participating in the fair for the last two years has taught her “to be a leader as well as a team player” and to respect the concept of labor unions because of what they have provided the American worker.
“It is important to spread the word on the benefits we all have received due to the efforts of labor unions and the coming together of people with the same goals,” says Webb. “I am not part of a union but I don’t have to be to support their work. Unions have a negative connotation associated with their name. Educating the masses is needed for them to understand and appreciate the benefits we have because of them.”
Carol Harrison, another senior majoring in labor studies, also volunteered her time at the event and said she enjoyed watching the students discover the widespread influence of labor unions.
“I observed the students looking at the ILWU display,” she said. “It had a powerful message about the inception of the ILWU and the struggles they had gone through. The display had actual articles and it was amazing to watch [their faces] – especially the high school students’ – when they read and saw what these unions had gone through and how they had prevailed.”
Alma A Reyna, a senior majoring in business administration, volunteered at the fair for a class activity and says that the event was more fun than a typical class project. An administrative assistant at an elementary school in Gardena, she said that she found the presentations interesting and that her coworkers were “surprised” at the range of information she gathered at the fair.
“This a great way to network and find potential mentors for many students and [workers] who are looking to progress in their career or education,” she said. “With these kinds of events students can become more knowledgeable.”
Harrison, who is a human resources representative at Northrop Grumman, echoed Reyna’s sentiments and said that the event was “networking at its best.”
“Many of the unions were hiring summer interns and students turned in their applications,” she said. “The following day at school, I heard students saying that they had received calls from the unions.”
The 2010 Labor and Social Justice Fair was sponsored by the Diane Middleton Foundation, the CSUDH 50th Anniversary Committee, Associated Students, Inc., and a growing list of unions that includes the Communication Workers of America, California Faculty Association Dominguez Hills Chapter, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Local 44, and United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local No. 324.