“Talking About Labor Law” at Richardson Law School

Eric Gill, left and Joe Burns, right.

The University of Hawaiʻi West Oʻahu (UHWO) Center for Labor Education and Research (CLEAR), University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Law Library, Hawaiʻi State AFL-CIO, and Academic Labor United are co-sponsoring “Talking About Labor Law from a Worker’s Perspective” at the William S. Richardson Law School from February 4 – 5. The weekend of events continues the dialogue which began at a 2020 event held at the Law Library, an online exhibit and discussion held on “Race, Labor, and Indigeneity.”

UHWO Labor Education Professor and Richardson Law School student Leslie Lopez ‘24 shared, “Labor education presents the law, economics, race/culture, media, and politics from a labor/organizing lens. The first formal labor education graduates were Harry Kamoku, Yasuki Arakaki, and Elias Domingo; they went on to organize the 1946 Sugar Strike. This strike helped pave the way for the 1954 Democratic Revolution in Hawai’i and put the state government back into the hands of working people.” 

This first event, a book talk on Class Struggle Unionism with author Joe Burns, will be held on Saturday, February 4 from 3-4 pm.  Burns, who has 25 years of experience negotiating labor agreements, will be discussing the politics of unionism and workplace-based militancy.

The second event, a Bargaining/Negotiations Workshop with Joe Burns and Eric Gill, will be held on Sunday, February 5 from 3-5 pm. Gill is the Financial Secretary-Treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 5, Hawaiʻi’s hospitality, food service, and healthcare workers union. Together, he and Burns will present on topics relating to contract negotiation from a labor perspective, including legal and economic frameworks, and community and campaign solutions.

Both events will take place at Richardson Law School; interested attendees may register here to attend (space will be limited).

Eric Gill contextualized why labor education should be included at the university level, “Hawaiʻi’s workers struggled to establish full access to quality education for all, including the establishment of a statewide, unified school system and a world-class university. Everyone in Hawaiʻi has benefited from the historical strength of organized labor.”

He also emphasized the need for knowledgeable, educated leaders for Hawai’i’s workers and the impact that the University of Hawaiʻi (UH) can make in labor education. “UH has responded to the needs of Hawaiʻi’s businesses, establishing entire colleges for management training.” The need for “knowledgeable, educated, and dedicated leaders for Hawaiʻi’s workers” continues today. “Talking About Labor Law from a Workers’ Perspective” offers an opportunity to engage in this educational dialogue.