June 21, 2011
(NEW YORK CITY – June 20, 2011) – For the first time, 34 apprentices from the United Association of the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union No. 1 graduated from SUNY Empire State College’s Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies with Associate of Science degrees.
They joined 226 apprentices from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local No.3, who graduated with Associate of Science, Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. This is the 38th consecutive Local No.3 graduating class.
Both union locals require and pay for apprentices to earn an associate degree through Empire State College in order to better prepare them for participation in the many facets of organized labor and the construction trades.
“I wish success and prosperity to the first graduating class from Local No.1,” said George W. Reilly, business manager of the union. “Earning a degree from SUNY Empire State College demonstrates that Local No.1 apprentices are a motivated, educated and effective workforce. Thanks to their on-the-job training and SUNY degree, Local No.1 apprentices are better prepared for not just jobs, but for careers. A SUNY degree helps our apprentices to apply critical thinking to what they see, hear and believe so that, like college graduates across the country, they can improve the world in which we live. These outstanding men and women will help strengthen the middle class. Graduation is a wonderful opportunity to showcase our apprentices and what Local No.1 is all about.”
“The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local No.3 takes great pride in the graduation of our apprentices from SUNY Empire State College,” said Christopher Erikson, business manager of IBEW Local No.3 and the 2011 commencement speaker. In his address to the graduates, Erikson said, “Harry Van Arsdale Jr. was a visionary and the captains of industry sought and relied on his advice and counsel. Through his integrity, he ensured labor’s role was respected. Most importantly, he believed and we all still believe, the only purpose of the union is to serve its members. All of us have the responsibility to fight to preserve the middle class way of life. With a college degree, you have another tool to meet the complex challenges you will face and I wish the class of 2011 all the best life can offer.”
As part of the 2011 graduation celebration, the college produced “Pipe Dreams” a collection of essays by the Local No.1 apprentices. In addition, the college published the second annual edition of “Labor Writes.” This year, “Labor Writes” contains essays from both Local No.3 and Local No.1. The inaugural edition of “Labor Writes” contained work from Local No.3 only.
“Labor Writes” also includes photographs of art projects or completed works of art by Local 3 apprentices.
The two publications are designed to showcase the experience and ability of apprentices in these fields. More importantly, these publications serve to better tell labor’s story to a wider audience through the students.
The apprentices graduated Friday evening June, 17 at a ceremony held at Columbia University’s Alfred Lerner Hall.
“The majority of our students are busy people who study part time and juggle careers, families and civic and volunteer responsibilities in their communities. After graduation, most stay here and continue to have a positive social and economic impact in New York,” said President Alan R. Davis. “Whether they have studied at any of our 35 locations in New York, such as The Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies, online through our Center for Distance Learning, or increasingly a combination of both, we are proud to confer a SUNY degree to each and every one of them. They truly are ‘The Power of SUNY.’”
“Higher education is an essential tool for the modern worker because union members manage their own sophisticated organizations, work in increasingly complex environments, and sit across the table from management,” said Center Dean Michael Merrill. “We are very happy to have the plumbers and pipefitters join their brothers and sisters from Local No.3. These Empire State College graduates will help propel the union movement forward and add to the ranks of a better-educated workforce for New York.”
By the numbers, degrees earned by the 2011 apprentices:
§ Local No. 1, 34 associate degrees,
§ Local No. 3, 206 associate degrees, and
§ Local No. 3, 20 bachelor’s degrees.
More than 7,600 have earned a degree or certificate from the center for labor studies since the college’s founding 40 years ago including nearly 5,900 members of IBEW’s Local No.3 who have earned an associate degree.
Earning an associate degree is an explicit part of the requirements for an apprentice in Local No. 3 and apprentices also can earn a bachelor’s degree . Both degrees are designed to meet the needs of the union and the worker.
The college has had a special relationship with the labor movement from its inception, and the Center for Labor Studies, also formed in 1971, was a product of that relationship.
Renamed in 1986 to honor Harry Van Arsdale Jr., who was instrumental in its creation, its purpose always has been to provide trade unionists and other wage-earning adults access to a college education in a learning environment that celebrates and builds on their experience and achievements.
Labor studies students are largely union members, staff or officers, as well as human resource professionals, managers, and those with an interest in labor/management relations in both the public and the private sectors. The emerging sub-field of “working-class studies” also has drawn increasing numbers of students interested in the working-class experience, broadly defined, and in the popular arts.
Graduates include Denis Hughes, president of the New York state AFL-CIO; Edward Malloy, president of the New York State Building and Construction Trades Council; and Morton Bahr, president emeritus of the Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO.
Members of New York City’s industrial, building and construction trades, service and public employees unions all have attended our programs. These include:
AFSCME District Council 37Allied Printing and Trades CouncilAmerican Federation of MusiciansAmerican Postal Workers UnionCivil Service Employees Association (AFSCME)Communications Workers of AmericaInternational Association of Theatrical Stage EmployeesInternational Brotherhood of CarpentersInternational Union of Operating EngineersNational Association of Letter CarriersPolice Benevolent AssociationService Employees International UnionSheet Metal Workers Union of AmericaUNITE-HEREUnited Association of Plumbers and PipefittersUnited Federation of TeachersInternational Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
Undergraduates can plan degrees in labor studies through our Van Arsdale Center for Labor Studies, located at 325 Hudson St., which includes one-to-one work with a faculty mentor and group study, or take advantage of flexible online learning through the Center for Distance Learning.
The Master of Arts in Labor and Policy Studies is designed for unionists, human resource professionals, arbitrators, educators, journalists, political activists, lawyers, and those involved in government for private industry. The primary concentration for this program is on current problems and policies generated by changes in the global economy, technology, the workforce and the workplace. This degree is only offered through our School for Graduate Studies and requires a combination of online study, weekend residencies and one-to-one work with a faculty mentor.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary throughout 2011, SUNY Empire State College was established in 1971 to offer adult learners the opportunity to earn associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the State University of New York. Students learn through independent studies, online courses, seminars and residencies. Learners also may earn credit for prior college-level learning from work and life experience.
The college serves more than 20,000 students worldwide at 35 locations in New York state and online. Its 60,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, not-for-profit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more.
For additional information, visit www.esc.edu . For more on the 40th anniversary, please follow this link .
David M. Henahan, Director of Communications 518-587-2100, ext. 2918 David.Henahan@esc.edu
518-321-7038(after 5 p.m. and weekends)