“I have truly enjoyed being a coach and will continue to do so for as long as possible,” says Maria Riggs, president of OPEIU Local 537. “I see these simulations as a great way to offer life’s experiences in the workforce to these young workers, most of whom haven’t even experienced their first job. Hopefully, they will be fortunate to work for a union but, even if not, they will be better employees and employers.”
UCLA undergraduate students enrolled in professor Janna Shadduck-Hernandez’s Labor Studies course “Working Families and Educational Inequalities in Urban Schools” attended the collective bargaining sessions as volunteers. With the help of the UCLA Labor Center’s community education specialist, Jazmin Rivera, the UCLA undergraduate volunteers jumped into action to provide the high school students with coaching and advice between rounds of bargaining—not just about the simulation, but about their college experience as well.
“Sitting in as a coach in these simulations allowed me to witness the cogs in the student’s brains spin [as] they pondered outside-of-the-box for ways to successfully state their points and reach their desired outcomes,” says Nathan Cabrera, a UCLA undergraduate. “Their passion and engagement with the activity surprised me, but further inspired my interest in pursuing education and working as a teacher.”
“I learned that [union negotiations] can be a long process, and you have to really listen to the other person’s needs in order to come to an agreement that benefits everyone,” wrote a Marshall High School student.