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Consumed by exhaustion, agony, and stress, my dad silently plods toward his old recliner and sinks into it. His delivery route had seen five extensions in the past year, and the USPS management was attempting to enforce a sixth. Severe gout and back complications distorted his gait into an unbalanced half limp. This situation developed into my first experience with labor relations, but it certainly wasn’t my last. The American Postal Workers Union tirelessly fought for my dad’s physical and mental well-being to great success. Not only was the sixth route extension dismissed, but his normal route distance was also reduced by five miles. The overwhelming change in my dad’s spirits echoed throughout our family and inspired me to incorporate workplace relations into my passion for government policy.
Simply put, I love working with and learning about human interactions. I am fascinated by the various relationships between our desires, needs, and reality in both the law-making process and in everyday business practice. As an intern for Senator Bob Wieckowski, I expanded and applied my understanding of public policy’s impact on the workplace, as well as how problems in the workplace shape legislation.
My primary task was to resolve voters’ personal concerns. Since Senator Wieckowski’s political platform highlights a distinct focus on aiding the everyday blue-collar worker, the vast majority of incoming phone calls were complaints regarding unfair treatment in the workplace, or direct issues with employers and salary. I learned to apply my knowledge of our government’s powers and limitations to unique situations and provide coherent guidance and solutions. Meanwhile, I constantly gained insight into issues that plague the average worker.
I will never forget one phone call in particular – my conversation with Mrs. Torres, a single mother who could no longer afford her rent after her husband passed away. Her desolate sobbing slowly turned to excitement as I explained Senator Wieckowski’s pending Senate Bill 501, which reformed wage garnishment limits for low income workers. The bill would enable the working poor to retain more of their paycheck, helping struggling families make daily ends meet. After the phone call, I focused specifically on Senate Bill 501, compiling research and data on its potential communal impact. After two long weeks, I presented my findings to the senator. Pleased, he used my report during a Senate floor hearing to ultimately help pass Senate Bill 501 into law as part of his Economic Equity and Financial Stability Initiative. As a result of our legislative success, I achieved my personal goal: Mrs. Torres was able to retain her home. My momentary satisfaction gradually transitioned into perpetual curiosity surrounding the intersection between legislation and labor.
With interests spanning the entire spectrum of social sciences, there isn’t a more perfect fit for my academic future than Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Utilizing the only work-oriented interdisciplinary program as an undergraduate would empower my exploration of a broad understanding in human interactions. The flexibility to advance my ambitions in both public policy and workplace relations, while simultaneously exploring my interests in the managerial and union perspectives of labor, is simply exclusive to the ILR experience.
Outside of the classroom, I aspire to take advantage of ILR’s unique connections to real world work experience through applicable internships. I look forward to both short term opportunities in the Freshman Externship and Winter Intersession Programs, as well as more comprehensive commitments to undertake a Credit Internship or even to spend a semester in Dublin.
To some extent, I felt as though I had helped Mrs. Torres in the same way the American Postal Worker’s Union helped my dad. Looking beyond the individual case, I managed to grasp the optimistic reality that Senate Bill 501’s impact resonates with thousands of families across California who struggle with similar situations to Mrs. Torres. Therefore, I hope to utilize the omniscient power of future public policy to create permanent, far-reaching impacts in the workplace.
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