GST Roach Addresses SUNY Labor Studies Graduates

IAM General Secretary-Treasurer Robert Roach Jr., as he delivers the commencement speech to the SUNY Empire State College Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies graduating class of 2013 in New York City.

“Strive to become leaders,” said IAM General Secretary-Treasurer Robert Roach Jr., to the SUNY Empire State College Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies graduating class of 2013. Hundreds gathered as Roach delivered the commencement speech to just over a hundred of his alma mater’s labor graduates in New York City.

Graduates of the 2013 SUNY Empire State College Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies look on as IAM General Secretary-Treasurer Robert Roach Jr., addresses them as the “next round of union leadership in the country.”

“People are looking at you tonight and saying, ‘This is the next round of union leadership in our country,’” said Roach. “Your degree means something, that you are now recognized in the community. Assume the leadership role. No matter how small you may think your contribution might be, take action.”

Roach graduated from the Van Arsdale Center with a Bachelor of Science in labor and management relations in 1996. He credits the degree with helping him excel in union leadership, and encouraged the graduates to not waste time making their mark as the labor movement is in need of their many talents today.

“There was a great discussion during the last presidential election where people were saying 47 percent of Americans were getting government stuff. Well Brothers and Sisters, it’s been my experience that people don’t want government stuff – they want jobs,” said Roach to a round of applause. “And you now have the talent to help them get those jobs and protect those jobs.”

“They’re talking about taking away pensions, cutting health care, Social Security, Medicare,” continued Roach. “You must join this debate and this discussion as now you have learned how to articulate those issues. Improve your union. Fight those fights. Your family, your friends and your communities are depending on you.”

The Van Arsdale Center provides trade unionists access to a college education in a learning environment that celebrates and builds on their experience and achievements. 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.