When Mateo Franco Aguirre ’24 worked at a union on Long Island this summer, he discovered many workers in New York state’s rapidly growing legal cannabis industry were unfamiliar with their rights as union members.
“It was eye-opening, because a lot of these workers are native Spanish speakers and don’t really necessarily understand what a union even is,” said Aguirre, who interned at Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW, which represents workers in retail, wholesale, department store, food and commercial settings.
As part of his internship, he informed the workers about their rights ; he is bilingual in Spanish and English. “I was able to explain what the benefits are and why they’re part of this organization that they might not have otherwise realized they were even a part of,” said Aguirre.
He is one of 12 undergraduates who took part in the first High Roads Fellowship program to take place in New York City. The ILR School has been running the High Roads Fellowship for 15 years in Buffalo, New York. This year, it expanded its reach to New York City thanks to a three-year grant from the Einhorn Center for Community Engagement.