As part of a family involved in the building trades, Samantha Groark has a deeper understanding of the way labor law applies to the construction industry than the baseball industry, but she nonetheless has a strong appreciation for the work of the Players Association.
“I do know a little about MLB arbitration,” said Groark, who is among the five winners of the 2017 Michael Weiner Scholarship in Labor Studies recently announced by the Major League Baseball Players Trust. “I’m currently in an arbitration class and we learned a little bit about that. I can certainly see the overlap (in construction versus professional baseball), there is absolutely a need for arbitration and I can see why professional baseball players need a union.”
“The public only sees the glitz and glamour of a professional athlete. I think a professional athlete union ensures a player’s health, among other things, is protected.”
Her roots in the construction industry led her to the United Association of Plumbers & Pipefitters, where she worked as a writer and an executive assistant to the General President. Samantha has also worked as a law clerk at a union-side labor law firm in her native St. Louis and has been awarded a Peggy Browning Fellowship in 2017.
Prior to moving on to law school at Mizzou, Groark attended Xavier University for her undergrad. She believes attending the Jesuit school in Cincinnati, where she had social justice applied to her education, helped her further develop her passion for giving back to others.
Groark also has an appreciation for Michael Weiner, whom this scholarship is named after and celebrated for. On a larger and more personal scale, Samantha is able to draw a much deeper comparison to Michael than just his work at the Players Association.
“My mother was diagnosed with cancer when I was 15 and passed when I was 16,” Groark said. “When I learned about Michael’s battle with cancer, I thought about my mother and about one of Stuart Scott’s quotes: ‘You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.’”
“This scholarship in Michael’s name is a testament to the remarkable and compassionate life he lived.”
Groark offered this on her allegiance to the St. Louis Cardinals.
“When I first became involved in labor law, my dad gave me a Curt Flood jersey,” said, Groark, a St. Louis native. “I am a big Cardinals fan, but I wasn’t sure who Flood was. I researched him and his legal battle and was pretty impressed by his conviction.
“With the odds against him, he was willing to take a stand for what he knew was right. I love that and I think the labor movement needs it.”
To be eligible for the Michael Weiner Scholarship for Labor Studies, individuals must be Graduate or Law Students enrolled in accredited educational institutions in the United States or Canada and must have a demonstrated interest and aspire to a career working in the labor movement and on behalf of workers’ rights.
To receive an award, eligible candidates must meet a combination of criteria including a superior academic record, a demonstrated commitment to the labor movement, a strong recommend ation from an academic or a labor/worker’s rights practitioner, and an excellent display of written and oral communication skills.
Preference also is given to those who can demonstrate financial need through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) scores or otherwise.
The scholarship application for the 2018 Michael Weiner Scholarship for Labor Studies will be posted here in July 2017.