Joaquin Recinos’ first glimpse into the value of labor unions came when he joined one fresh out of high school.
Recinos, a southern California native, took a position as a Dodger Stadium usher, one that gave him representation by a union.
During his time at Dodger Stadium—besides strengthening his love for the Dodgers—Recinos began to understand all of the different ways that unions protect and advance the workplace rights of their members.
“I was still kind of young to understand exactly how the union played into it all,” said Recinos, one of five recipients of a 2018 Michael Weiner Scholarship for Labor Studies. “I knew it was a big deal that we had that because it gave us protection and it made sure our wages were better than any other job.
It was not until his undergrad day at Georgetown University, however, that Recinos became committed to the labor movement; ultimately influencing him to pursue it as a profession.
With the understanding he’d gained as an usher at the Dodger Stadium, Recinos joined an organizing campaign for the university’s dining hall workers.
“I would see people work within the dining halls that had families, some were grandmothers, who had been working there for numerous years and weren’t making enough to make ends meet and weren’t even being respected,” said Recinos.
“For me it was a very clear choice, that when you work somewhere and you make an effort to do a good job, you should be treated fairly, paid well and ultimately have a voice at the table.”
His hands on experience did not stop there.
Following graduation, Recinos spent time working with a local union in his home state that helped organized hotel workers. The summer before entering law school, he had an eye-opening opportunity to work at a labor law firm; something he says reminded him of why he chose this path.
“It brought back all the memories,” he said. “This is why I want to fight this fight. I want to stand behind groups of workers that are organizing or those that already have a union and need someone there to tackle the legal issues.”
Recinos’ drive to one day work within the field led him to the Peggy Brown Fund Worker’s Rights Conference in Maryland, last October.
It was there, Recinos said, that he was introduced to the work of the late Michael Weiner.
“He was committed to the labor movement, he devoted his whole life to making sure the players had a voice, which was being heard and that their rights were not being violated,” he said. “After hearing that I knew I wanted to apply and do my best to get the scholarship.”
Though not sure where he will end up after completing his law degree at the UC Davis School of Law, he does know that he wants to learn as many skills that he can, knowing that they will only benefit him in the long run.
“I want to acquire as many tools as possible,” said Recinos. “I want to learn to be a great lawyer, how to negotiate contracts, be a better organizer, talk to politicians, and talk policy.”
“I’m not sure where all that will take me, but this field along with this scholarship remind me that there are people out there that are struggling even worse and that’s why I got involved in the first place.”
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 recommendation 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 2018.
To read Aaron Bibb’s scholarship feature, click here
To read Gabriel Frumkin’s scholarship feature, click here
To read David Huang’s scholarship feature, click here
To read Benjamin Mantle’s scholarship feature, click here