This summer marked the 75th anniversary of the United Steelworkers of America’s annual summer institute at the School. Since 1947, USW members have been participating in intensive summer residential programs taught by LER faculty and USW staff. Thousands of steel workers have come to campus and taken what they learned back to their union halls, shop floors, and communities.
During this summer’s 75th celebration, participants gathered for a celebratory program, including remarks from Dean Fulmer, remarks from Charva Jones, education director for the United Steelworkers District 7, and a creative historical skit commemorating the history of the program. The 75th class graduated from the summer school on July 14th, and over the four weeks of this summer’s program, over 400 Steelworkers attended courses.
In recent years, one of the most exciting developments has been the growth of the Women of Steel program. Led by faculty members Stephanie Fortado and Emily Twarog, this program requires students return for four summers to complete the curriculum. It has helped bring forward a new generation of women’s leadership in the labor movement. District 7 also runs ongoing Spanish-language leadership development classes throughout the year and will take a group of graduates to visit the USW sister union, Los Mineros, in Mexico next April.
USW Summer Schools with District 7 are the longest continuous running program of this type, jointly sponsored between a university and a district-wide labor union. Beginning next summer, the program will welcome students from the union’s locals in Wisconsin. Drawing from three states – Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin – the program becomes a Midwest program, perhaps the largest of its type in the nation. Due to this expansion, the Summer Schools will add a new, fifth week in 2023.