Building Trades

LIUNA Members Get Educated

By Bendix Anderson
January 5, 2011

Anthony Williamson got a surprise in his mailbox this December — a personal letter signed by Terence M. O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA). 

The note congratulated Williamson and 40 other LIUNA members for completing a bachelor’s degree in labor studies. Williamson also received an orange sash to celebrate his degree.

Williamson, an organizer for Construction & General Building Laborers’ Local 79, earned his degree through a joint program of Cornell University and the National Labor College. Most of the classes were held in Midtown Manhattan at Cornell’s extension school, though some of his coursework required travel to distant parts of New York State. In 2003 he graduated from Cornell University with a Certificate in Labor Studies as well as the National Labor College with a Degree in Labor Studies.  In 2007, Williamson received a Certificate from the Cornell University Leadership Institute for Union Leadership.

He wrote his thesis on the need for union leadership to reflect the diversity of union membership. “We are a union of immigrants,” Williamson said. “We started with immigrants over a hundred years ago.”

Williamson is an immigrant himself. He came to the United States from Guyana in 1996. He joined Local 79 in 2000. In 2002 he joined the staff of the union as an organizer. Williamson’s also sits on Local 79’s Executive Board as an Auditor.  Over the past two years Williamson has been invited to speak as a Guest Lecturer at New York University. His lectures highlight the importance of Union involvement in the construction industry.

Now Williamson is pursuing his master’s degree in urban studies. He has attended several classes at Queens College, and is gathering the financing necessary to complete his coursework.

“Being a union leader is to be a leader for social justice,” said Williamson. “We are changing the life of the community.”

January 5, 2011

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