Founded in 1980, John Kretzschmar is the founding director of the William Brennan Institute for Labor Studies (WBILS). The WBILS began The Promoting the General Welfare Conference in 1999. The conference aims to educate union and non-union audiences learn more about how the labor movement works to advance the general welfare of the nation. “Learning that unions and union members share a desire to promote economic and social justice is essential to creating alliances and coalitions between organizing labor and like-minded groups.”
Every year, this event brings in a variety of people who work in organized labor, members of our local community and other institutions, UNO students, faculty, and staff. Presenters at the conference come from organized labor and those organizations, which believe in labor’s mission to promote and defend meaningful workplace democracy.
“Over time it has become clear that the general public needs more information about why unions exist, how they function, and what they do to contribute to humanizing the modern employment relationship. So one goal of the conference is to provide the missing information.” John says that the process of educating and raising levels of fairness and justice in the nation’s workplaces and communities is never ending.
The conference has been critical to the success of the Institute because it has brought John in contact with faculty, staff, and students at UNO. “It has allowed faculty to invite me into their classes to present material about organized labor and its contributions to humanizing the employment relationship.”
UNO’s William Brennan Institute for Labor Studies began in 1980. The organization’s purpose is to foster critical and creative thinking among labor leaders, potential leaders, and members by providing relevant information and training in the skills necessary for promoting and defending meaningful workplace democracy within our changing economy and workplace.
Keynoters have addressed a wide variety of topics: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 50; An Injury to One is an Injury to All; The Labor Movement of the Future; Creating Messages that Move People; Labor’s Contributions to Economic and Social Justice; Organized Labor Advancing the General Welfare of the Nation; Unions and Immigration Policies; Putting the “Movement” Back into the Labor Movement; and Public Education is a Public Good.
Workshop topics have included: Organized Labor and Community Engagement; The Appropriate Role of Government in Everyday Life; Sweatshop Labor Around the World; Health Care in Other Industrialized Nations; The Role of Cultural Diversity in Building Solidarity; Building Coalitions and Partnerships with Like-Minded Groups; Where Religious Values and Union Concerns Meet; Understanding the Goals of the Affordable Care Act; The Role of Taxation in Building the Nation’s Commonwealth; Ties Between Union Density and National Happiness; Green Jobs and Organized Labor; The Ethics of Equality; Common Sense Economics; and The Role of “Big Money” in Shaping Public Policy.
Campus Commitment to Engagement
Community engagement and service are fundamental components of UNO's identity. This commitment to engagement is reflected in UNO's academics, student body, partnerships, and institutional framework. As an engaged campus, UNO values mutually-beneficial partnerships where information and expertise is shared and applied for the common good.
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