Each summer, the Rutgers’ Goldstein Internship sponsors a student from the School of Management and Labor Relations (SMLR) to intern in Washington D.C. at the Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO. The internship is generously sponsored by Dr. Coralie Farlee, a three-time Rutgers graduate and long-time friend of the school who funds the internship in honor of her late husband, Dr. Bernard Goldstein.
“This internship provided me an unparalleled opportunity to develop my academic, professional, and organizing skills, as well as network with leaders and peers in the labor movement I would have otherwise never been able to do,” said Christian Berk, the 2016 Rutgers Goldstein Intern. Christian began fighting for worker power and justice in 2011 when he became active in the Occupy Movement in Tucson, AZ. Since then, Christian has been pursuing a bachelor of science degree in labor and employment relations at SMLR while also being active in the Rutgers’ Chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS). Christian plans to pursue a master’s degree in labor and employment relations at SMLR.
At the beginning of June, Christian worked with Marilyn Sneiderman, Director of SMLR's Center for Innovation in Worker Organization, Amanda Pacheco, IBEW Education Director, and Nick Wertsch from Georgetown’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor to host a welcome orientation for new summer interns.
This event helped Christian kick-start one of the goals of his internship: building a network of interns in labor and other allied organizations to plug them into the local labor movement and other social justice causes. For example, he developed a weekly newsletter specifically for interns, outlining weekly actions and events in the area, and he built a community of interns on social media.
During his internship, Christian also contributed writing, editing, and publishing Union City, a daily email newsletter that reports on labor news in the metro area, as well as three other union local’s newsletters. Additionally, Christian helped facilitate relationships between the Metro Council and other allied organizations, such as helping DC Jobs for Justice educate the community about the DC “Just Hours” Campaign. Christian also worked on mobilizing area unions and interns to educate union members about a bill that would devastate collective bargaining for public employees in Maryland’s Montgomery County.
The internship culminated in the second annual Labor-Ally Intern Gathering, organized by the Rutgers Goldstein Intern and hosted by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. Dozens of interns representing many different unions and allied organizations attended including the AFL-CIO, the Metro Washington Council, SEIU, UFCW, AFSCME, UMWA, Good Jobs First, the Solidarity Center, USAS, Rutgers SMLR, and the Kalmanovitz Initiative at Georgetown. Although the event was scheduled to end at 8 p.m., many interns stayed over an hour later discussing international worker’s issues and how unionism is a part of the solution.
Dr. Coralie Farlee attended the event and talked with other interns about her decades of experience fighting for social justice. Clutching his one and a half year old daughter in his arms, Metro Washington Council Executive Director Carlos Jimenez joked about how she will be a future intern and expressed appreciation for the Goldstein intern’s work this summer building the labor intern network. National coordinators from United Students Against Sweatshops networked with interns to organize for worker justice when many of the interns return to school. One attendee expressed interest in pursuing a Ph.D. at Rutgers SMLR.
If you are interested, or know a student who would benefit from the Rutgers Goldstein Internship next year, please contact Marilyn Sneiderman, Professor and Director of Rutgers SMLR Center for Innovation in Worker Organization.