Nine Machinists Earn UMass Labor Studies Master’s Degrees

Nine IAM members and staff earned master’s degrees in union and labor administration from the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst. Pictured from left: Local 2339A member Cherie Morgan, Special Representative Mark Hollibush, Special Representative Bridget Fitzgerald, Grand Lodge Representative Richard Suarez, Grand Lodge Auditor Ed Delaporte, Local 751F member Hazel Powers and Local 2339A member Heather Ragle.

Nine IAM members and staff were awarded master’s degrees in union and labor administration from the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst. On May 6, 2016, they crossed the stage to receive their diplomas from the university’s chancellor.

It was the culmination of a lot of hard work and many late nights. The group entered the highly regarded Union and Labor Administration program at the UMass Amherst Labor Center together in the summer of 2013 and progressed semester by semester through the program.

The UMass Amherst Labor Studies program is one of the premier graduate degree programs for students to understand the political economy, workers’ organizations and how to build power. The program provides skills activists need—hands-on skills in organizing, strategic corporate research and bargaining—as well as the theory and context to think critically about issues confronting working people and the labor movement today.

The 2016 graduating class includes Grand Lodge Auditor Ed Delaporte, Special Representative Bridget Fitzgerald, Special Representative Mark Hollibush, Local 2339A member Cherie Morgan, Local 1763 member Matt Pyne, Local 751F member Hazel Powers, Local 2339A member Heather Ragle, Grand Lodge Representative Richard Suarez and FL 1998 Member Gil Yap.

“I am incredibly proud of all of these IAM graduates; they successfully completed an academic program that is known for its rigor and high standards,” said IAM International President Bob Martinez. “I am confident that the knowledge these members and staff gained in the course of their studies will be used to meet the challenges we confront as an organization in the future.”

“I want to say congratulations to the graduates,” said IAM General Secretary-Treasurer Dora Cervantes. “They juggled family, work and school assignments while pursuing a degree that will allow them to better and more effectively serve the membership of the IAM. They are to be commended for their perseverance and hard work.”

“My participation in the University of Massachusetts graduate program was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life,” said Fitzgerald. “I look forward to utilizing the knowledge I’ve gained to fight for a brighter future for working families.”

“This accomplishment would not have been realized without the support of many, I will forever be in great debt to my family and my union family for their unrelenting encouragement,” said Suarez.

“I discovered another meaning to the term ‘solidarity’ while moving through this program,” said Powers. “The participating Machinists improved on the ‘no man left behind’ mentality by adopting a ‘no woman or man left behind’ culture during the entire process.”

“I am extremely grateful to our Executive Council for understanding that education helps enable us to do a better job to improve our members working conditions and lives,” said Delaporte.

“Not only am I extremely proud of these graduates, I am proud to lead an organization that supports and values education,” said Martinez. “The IAM has led and continues to lead the way when it comes to education.”

IAM members can pursue and earn an associates, bachelors or master’s degree through the IAM/SUNY-Empire State College Partnership Program at the Winpisinger Center. Click here for more information, or contact Rhonda Rogers at the Winpisinger Center at 301-373-3300 or email rrogers@iamaw.org.