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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Fruits of URI's labor can be found in new encyclopedia

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

Labor professor, graduate students write about 70 entries in two-volume set


KINGSTON, R.I. -- June 16, 2004 -- When University of Rhode Island Professor Scott Molloy was teaching a graduate seminar on worker representation three years ago, a friend asked if he would contribute to the Historical Encyclopedia of American Labor.

Molloy, a nationally known labor historian himself, agreed to write a few entries for the encyclopedia.

But at the time, he was also going to give his graduate students a writing assignment entitled What’s Wrong with the Labor Movement. “Then, the light went on, and I thought, ‘Why not give my students a real-life writing assignment?’” Molloy said.

That bright idea led to 13 URI graduate students and Molloy writing more than 60 entries in the two-volume encyclopedia published this year by Greenwood Press, Westport, Conn. It’s co-editors are Robert E. Weir and James P. Hanlan. Weir was the one who made the initial call to seek Molloy’s assistance.

“Our friend Scott Molloy…toiled long and hard on behalf of the project,” the authors say in their acknowledgments. “Scott not only served on the advisory board, but he also enlisted his graduate students in the project and wrote numerous entries.”

“In that seminar class, I brought in a lot of practitioners from labor and management to make sure students heard about important workplace issues from those who deal with them every day,” Molloy said. “I thought this writing project would be another real-life experience.

“It’s been a few years since that project, and now all the students have a nice coffee table book that they can show friends, colleagues and potential employers,” he said.
In addition, the URI graduate students’ names are listed with each of their entries. Each also received a free copy of the $175 encyclopedia.

Molloy said the book is the definitive encyclopedia on labor issues. “Where else could you find entries on such terms as whipsawing, wildcat, sweetheart contract, lockout, quickie and open shop, as well as labor’s important historical figures and events?” Molloy asked.

Molloy wrote the entry about sweetheart contract, “a sarcastic term for bargaining agreements worked out secretly between a few union officers and management without the input or even knowledge of rank-and-file unionists. Historically, such arrangements have been associated with corrupt practices by either party and usually involve a kickback to a labor official.”

In his entry on lockouts, URI graduate student Kenneth Ferus writes, “A lockout is sometimes confused with a strike, but they are not the same. A lockout occurs when an employer closes a facility and prevents employees from entering and working. Lockouts are intended to pressure the union to accept management’s contract terms.”

The URI students wrote on everything from shop steward to picketing.

“All of our graduate classes are demanding and this was another demanding exercise,” Molloy said. “Everyone in the class participated, and the project counted for about 20 percent of their final grade.”

The student contributors from URI are: Carolyn Anderson of Middleboro, Mass.; Michael Bailey of North Providence; Jaime (Barnes) Van Biljon of Newport; Amanda Busjit of Palm Bay, Fla.; Victor Caron of Westerly; Howard Davis of Providence; Kenneth Ferus of East Providence; Pete Gingras of West Greenwich; Walter Hourahan of Providence; Cornelia McAndrew of Barrington; Danielle McMullen of Middletown, Conn. and Joseph F. Rodgers of Narragansett.
For Further Information: Scott Molloy 401-874-2569