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2007.03.22 > For Immediate Release
contact: Tim Kaldahl - University Affairs
phone: 402.554.3502 - email: tkaldahl@mail.unomaha.edu

Brennan Institute Labor Conference Set for April 21

Omaha - The William Brennan Institute for Labor Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) will host its Eighth Annual Labor Community Conference on Saturday, April 21.  “Promoting the General Welfare” is the event's title and overarching theme.

Providing for the welfare of the general public is a basic goal of government.  The preamble of the U.S. Constitution cites promotion of the general welfare as a primary reason for the creation of the Constitution, said John Kretzschmar, director of the William Brennan Institute for Labor Studies.

“Promotion of the general welfare is also a stated purpose in state constitutions and statutes.  ‘Promoting the General Welfare’ is founded on the belief that self-evident universal truths espoused in the Delectation of Independence must be a reality for all citizens and not for an elite few,” Kretzschmar said.  “It is a viewpoint that emphasizes the values of social and economic justice for all of the people in the country who are required to work to earn a living."

Bill Fletcher Jr., the author of numerous articles about the future of the labor movement and co-author of the pictorial booklet The Indispensable Ally: Black Workers and the Formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, 1934-1941, will be a featured speaker.  He currently is the Belle Zeller visiting professor at Brooklyn College—City University of New York.  Prior to that, he was president and CEO of the TransAfrica Forum, a national nonprofit organization best known for leading the fight in the United States to end apartheid in South Africa.  Fletcher’s ties to the labor movement include serving as vice president for International Trade Union Development Programs at the George Meany Center of the AFL-CIO; working as assistant to John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO; and serving as AFL-CIO education director.  

Fletcher’s presentation will serve as a reminder about the universal issues of fairness, justice and equity, Kretzschmar said.

“Bill Fletcher is a great speaker and great scholar of the labor movement,”  he said. 

In addition to Fletcher, workshop and plenary sessions will include:* “New Working-Class Studies: Rethinking Class in America,” presented by John Russo, the coordinator of the Labor Studies Program and co-director of the Center for Working-Class Studies, Williamson College of Business Administration, Youngstown State University;

* “Health and Safety in the Workplace,” presented by Judith King, faculty and former director of the Center for Labor Education and Research, University of Alabama in Birmingham;

* “Religious Values and Labor Issues,” presented by Charese Jordan, deputy director for Interfaith Worker Justice, and Jessica Vasquez-Torres, national religious outreach coordinator for Interfaith Worker Justice; and

* A closing plenary session on “Making a Difference,” led by David Hayes, International Representative for the Laborer’s International Union of North America. 

All events will be held in the Milo Bail Student Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Registation for the event costs $20 for students and $30 for the general public through April 13.  After April 13, the registration fee is $30 for students; $40 for the public.  On-site registration the day of the conference begins at 8 a.m.  The conference fee includes lunch.  There are five CEUs available for social workers who attend the entire conference.

To register for the conference, or for more information, call (402) 595-2344. The conference Web site can be found at http://www.unomaha.edu/~wbils/lbrconf.html.

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