It takes a skilled union laborer to build, demolish, maintain, and repair buildings and infrastructure. It also apparently takes a skilled union Laborer to find one the world's oldest messages in a bottle.
Another day at the worksite for LIUNA Local 3's Robert Kanaby, right?
Kanaby, a 13-year member, was working demolition at Montclair State University last February. Using a chipping hammer to take down a 6-foot brick wall, Kanaby heard the sound of broken glass which would lead him down a path no other Laborer in the history of LIUNA has probably ever experienced. He discovered a 112-year old message from two union bricklayers who were involved in the building of the stately College Hall on the MSU campus. The glass he heard shattered was the bottle the letter was stored in.
Yanira Merino is a proud member of LIUNA and works as the Union’s National Immigration Coordinator. Last year, Merino made history as the first woman and immigrant to win election as president of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA). It is a continuation of the work she has been doing since the 1990s—as an advocate for workers, immigrants, unionism, and economic and social justice.
We sat down with Ms. Merino to discuss the state-of-affairs, her work, and one thing we should consider during National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15th to October 15th).
Women’s History Month has its earliest origins in the celebration of International Women’s Day, which was itself a focal point for the women’s rights movement of the 1900s. By the mid-1970s, celebrations had expanded to a week-long observance of women’s achievements in many parts of the country.
In 1981, recognizing the growing popularity of Women’s History Week, Rep. Barbara Mikulski and Sen. Orrin Hatch sponsored a joint resolution officially proclaiming the week of March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.” Over the next five years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as “Women’s History Week. Beginning in 1987, after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress designated the entire month of March as Women’s History Month.
In the spirit of honoring Women’s History, we wanted to shine the spotlight on four female activists whose contributions help shape the labor movement into what it is today. Our current successes are built on the shoulders of these extraordinary women.
Hoping to raise awareness of the significant and varied contributions of African Americans to our civilization’s shared history and culture, Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson, helped found Negro History Week – the precursor to Black History Month – in 1925. It was a resounding success and helped pave the way for our monthlong reflection and recognition of achievements of African Americans in every area of American society.
In the spirit of honoring Black History, we wanted to shine the spotlight on four African American union activists whose contributions helped shape the labor movement into what it is today. Our current successes are built on the shoulders of these remarkable men and women.
New Jersey has a critical skills gap that is leaving good-paying jobs unfilled, while the growing demand for career and technical education far exceeds space available for interested students.
But we now have a great opportunity to help bridge that disconnect.