Portland has been selected one of eight cities to host Union Summer, a 10-week national AFL-CIO internship program for college students.
Staff of the national AFL-CIO Organizing Institute recruited 45 college student interns, who are taking part in local organizing campaigns in Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Washington, D.C., New Orleans, Ft. Lauderdale, Charlotte, Twin Cities, and Portland.
Their first week, June 13 to 17, was spent in orientation in Washington, D.C., where they met with AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler and Washington, D.C. Central Labor Council President Joslyn Williams and learned about organizing and one-on-one communication from national AFL-CIO staff.
The interns receive a $350-a-week stipend for participation — plus travel, lodging, and meals while they’re in D.C. To reduce expenses, the program recruited interns in the cities they’ll be working in. So recruiters from the national AFL-CIO spent a week at Portland State University, working with professors and giving class presentations. As a result, three PSU juniors and two graduating seniors are taking part — Jillian Balderson, Tiffany Dollar, Kelsey Jorgenson, Lolita Lincoln, and Patrice Mays.
Jorgensen is working with Communication Workers of America Local 7901 in its campaign to get a first contract for workers at Dosha Salon Spa. Dollar is aiding the Oregon School Employees Association in a widening dispute with multinational school bus contractor First Student. Balderson, Lincoln, and Mays are helping Oregon AFSCME on an organizing campaign.
Lincoln, a Seattle native, says the controversies across the nation over education and teachers’ rights like the battle in Wisconsin caused her to want to find out more about how the union movement affects people’s daily lives.
“No matter if you’re a nurse or a doctor or a teacher, no matter whoever you are, we’re all just one community and it’s important for me to be part of a movement that empowers people,” Lincoln said.
On Aug. 18, the interns will return to Washington, D.C, for a debrief.