U of O President Frohmayer still supports LERC 20 years later
EUGENE, OR -- University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer gave high marks to the Labor Education and Research Center's (LERC) faculty and Director Margaret Hallock at a 20th anniversary celebration Oct. 3 at the Hilton Hotel here.
The Oregon Legislature established LERC in 1977 as a way to provide education and research to workers. At the UofO campus and Portland Center, LERC offers classes and conducts research in the fields of occupational safety and health, technological changes, special concerns for women and minority workers, and a range of issues linked to collective bargaining and labor-management relations.
Praising LERC's faculty for the "strength and richness of its outreach" to rank-and-file workers, Frohnmayer vowed to help the program move forward into the next century.
The former Republican attorney general and state legislator who voted to create LERC in 1977 said that since its inception the Labor Education and Research Center has coped with a revolutionary change in the workplace in which "corporations and workers have been downsized, right-sized or capsized."
Reminiscing about his days in the Legislature, Frohnmayer said that his support of LERC came "during a time that you could cross party lines (and vote) for a good idea, and do the right thing without censure from colleagues."
"I'm pleased to have voted for it. It's enriching to see how powerful it has become," he told the audience, which included Supreme Court Justices Ted Kulongoski and Robert Durham, Congressman Peter DeFazio, Multnomah County Chair Bev Stein, and State Senators Susan Castillo and Cliff Trow.
Congressman DeFazio of Springfield thanked legislators for having the foresight to create LERC.
"In a lot of ways it was ahead of its time. Now, more than ever, we need LERC to help take us into the next century," he said.
Brian McWilliams of San Francisco, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, said it is through labor education centers that workers can learn the history of labor and their unions and attract them to classes that enhance "their ability to think and the decision to act."
Elaine Bernard, director of the Harvard University Trade Union Program in Cambridge, Mass., congratulated LERC for maintaining its balance between education and research.
"To keep going, labor education centers today tend to go in one direction or the other -- entirely education or dropping education for the big grants possible with research," she said. Bernard said labor education centers such as LERC bring a new dimension and "workplace perspective" to universities by giving rank-and-file workers access to campuses.
Often labor education is viewed as a dirty word in academia because it is viewed as "an advocate of labor," said the former British Columbia high school dropout who now has a Ph.D. in sociology.
"Business schools -- they're not neutral on business, they are unashamed advocates of business and enterprise," she said. "Labor education needs to be an advocate of worker and human rights in the same way instructors defend their business school, or any other entity within the university."
Hallock introduced a new certificate program for LERC at its anniversary celebration. U-LEAD (Union-Leadership Education and Development) will offer courses in four areas that correspond to critical elements of union leadership, starting in January. Knowing how to bargain a contract, how to enforce it and how to run an efficient meeting are starters.
U-LEAD was developed with help from LERC's labor advisory committee.
Those completing the course of two to four years will earn a certificate in union leadership. Previous courses offered by LERC may count toward completion of a U-LEAD certificate, but will not be transferrable as credits toward a degree program.
© Oregon Labor Press Publishing Co. Inc.