Inaugural UCLA Labor Summer 2023 fellowship kicks off with inspiring retreat

Fellows will soon begin an 8-week fellowship in the labor movement

Citlalli Chávez-Nava and Lesly Ayala | June 30, 2023

Coming off the heels of a historic expansion of labor centers across the University of California, last week, students interested in labor, economic and social justice topics descended upon the UCLA campus for the launch of Labor Summer 2023 for an inspiring 3-day retreat that marked the start of an engaged-learning summer fellowship. 

Hosted by the Dream Resource Center at the UCLA Labor Center, UCLA Labor Summer 2023 will place students with local and statewide labor and community organizations for an 8-week, fellowship that will allow students to immerse in the labor movement and social and economic justice topics at the intersection of race, class, gender and immigration status. 

UCLA Labor Center Director Kent Wong said the program comes at a crucial time for labor organizing across the nation.

“Labor Summer 2023 is the first statewide project organized by all nine UC Labor Centers. More than 100 youth are participating in exciting union and community projects over the summer, and their collective impact will resonate,” he said. “At a time when worker mobilization is intensifying throughout California and across the country, Labor Summer could not be more timely.”

To inaugurate the initiative at UCLA, students were also joined by fellows from UC San Diego and UC Riverside. Together, fellows engaged in workshops and panels related to labor history, organizing, self-care, solidarity and storytelling.

Fellows consist of 18 UCLA undergraduate and students who recently graduated spanning across various disciplines, including 8 labor studies majors. 

UCLA Labor Summer fellows will be placed at the following organizations:

Jazmin Rivera, Dream Resource Center community education specialist, thinks the program will help students discover their interests and passions.

“Everyone has a role to play in the labor movement. We need organizers, educators, artists, storytellers, and everything in between,” said Rivera. “I hope this program gives folks the space to figure out their role in the movement.”

Program participant Reni Araque, looks forward to beginning his placement at the Los Angeles College Faculty Guild – AFT 1521. A recent UCLA graduate double majoring in labor studies and European Languages and Transcultural Studies with German, Araque felt compelled to apply to Labor Summer to put the theories he learned in class into action.

“I want to see a change in the workplace because one thing that I learned through my studies at UCLA is that labor is where all of our interests align, meaning that we all intersect in labor and making ends meet and making money to provide for our families,” he said.

Throughout the program, students will gain leadership and professional development training, receive a stipend, and gain access to a statewide labor summer network, enabling continued connections with other fellows from different campuses.

As a transfer student, Araque also looks forward to serving the community college district that he came from. 

“I want to empower community college students and I want to see adjunct professors, who have more or less a full time workload, but are considered part time, to get a living wage and to have access to health care. That’s very important,” he said. “If professors are earning a living wage, and their needs are being met with the benefits that they’re actually entitled to, that’s going to provide a better experience for the students.”

In total, UCLA Labor Summer’s opening retreat hosted 18 fellows from UCLA, 12 fellows from UC Riverside and 12 fellows from UC San Diego. Labor Summer 2023 will also be offered at UC Berkeley, UC Merced, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara and UC Davis, hosted by their respective labor centers.

UCLA Labor Summer will run from June 19, 2023- Aug. 11, 2023.

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Citlalli Chávez-Nava

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