Partnership Program Offers Labor Studies Degrees

IAM Grand Lodge Representative Edison Fraser, right, recently received his bachelor’s degree in labor studies from the National Labor College at a ceremony at Columbia University in New York. IAM General Secretary-Treasurer Robert Roach, Jr., left, was on hand to congratulate Fraser.

When IAM Grand Lodge Representative Edison Fraser received his bachelor’s degree in labor studies from the National Labor College (NLC), he accomplished a goal of graduating college before his 18-year-old son Orantez.

Fraser, 43, recently walked across a stage at Columbia University in New York to receive his hard-earned degree as family members, including Orantez, looked on. Fraser, who graduated with a 3.78 GPA, has earned an associate’s and now a bachelor’s degree at NLC since he began classes in May 2012.

“As members of the IAM, we have a great opportunity afforded to us through our partnership with higher education institutions,” said Fraser, an IAM member since he hired on at Southwest Airlines in 2002. “Furthering my education will allow me to better serve our members.”

Fraser completed classes dealing with globalization, professional communication, workplace diversity, labor law, airline deregulation, immigration and more.

IAM General Secretary-Treasurer Robert Roach, Jr., who was there to congratulate him as he walked across the stage, called Fraser “a demonstrated leader who is furthering himself and his union with the hard work he’s done to get his education.”

Fraser is among the last union members to receive a degree from NLC, which will completely close its doors in December 2015. But a new partnership between the IAM and Empire State College (ESC), a multi-site institution in the State University of New York (SUNY) system, aims to help fill the void left by NLC’s closing.

The IAM and Empire State College are awaiting final approval from the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC). Once MHEC approves, IAM members will be able to pursue degrees from the Harry Van Arsdale, Jr. Center for Labor Studies and the ESC School of Graduate Studies at the IAM’s William W. Winpisinger Center in Hollywood, MD. The first cohort may begin as early as August with the first residency in September 2015. The partnership will allow members to pursue degrees through a combination of coursework at the Winpisinger Center and online.

“This partnership reflects the IAM’s commitment to educational access for the membership,” said Roach, a graduate of ESC’s Van Arsdale Center for Labor Studies. “The Winpisinger Center has long been a brick and mortar symbol of that commitment to educational access; this college degree partnership underscores that commitment and reflects our understanding that education is critical to our future as an organization.”

Empire State College is a fully accredited university and serves students in the United States, Canada and abroad. The Partnership Program has a limited residency requirement of up to three week-long sessions at the Winpisinger Center; other required classes can be taken online.

If you are interested in enrolling in the program, click here to complete and submit a short interest form.

For more information about the IAM/ESC Partnership Program, click here to download a brief PowerPoint presentation. If you have further questions, contact IAM Winpisinger Center Education Representative Rhonda Rogers at