Top labor scholars and leaders are meeting at the West Virginia University College of Law on Friday, Oct. 24, for a conference focused on ensuring a healthy and productive environment for workers in the United States.

Titled Zealous Advocacy for Social Change, the labor law conference is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 4:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. at the College of Law. Admission is free. In the morning session in the Lugar Courtroom, panelists will discuss the legal setting for the current anti-union environment, including labor’s assembly rights, and trends and updates.

Presenters include Lynn Rhinehart, general counsel of the AFL-CIO; Nicole Berner, deputy general counsel for the Service Employees International Union; Christopher Williamson, labor counsel for U.S. Senate H.E.L.P. Committee, and Marion Crain, vice provost at Washington University in St. Louis.

Law professors participating in the morning panels are Robert Bastress of WVU; Kenneth Casebeer of the University of Miami; Michael Duff of the University of Wyoming; Charlotte Garden of Seattle University; Jeffrey Hirsch of UNC-Chapel Hill; James Gray Pope of Rutgers University; Paul Secunda of Marquette University; and Joseph Slater of the University of Toledo.

Retiring U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., is providing a special video message and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, is sending a letter of support.

Other participants in the conference include Seth Harris, Cornell University distinguished scholar and former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor, and Richard F. Griffin Jr., general counsel for the National Labor Relations Board.

At 4:15 p.m. in the College of Law Event Hall, storyteller Karen Vuranch will present “Coal Camp Memories.” A one-act, one-person play, it honors Appalachia’s coal miners and their families and features live banjo accompaniment. It is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception.

In closed afternoon sessions, conference participants will engage in round-table discussions facilitated by WVU Extension professor and labor economist Sarah Stevenson. The purpose of these sessions is to discuss a labor law research agenda in order to promote a dialogue among the many labor academics in the United States and throughout the world.

Tony Michael, associate professor and director of the WVU Extension Institute for Labor Studies and Research, and Jason Kozlowski, assistant professor with the institute, will also participate in the round-table discussions.

Anne Marie Lofaso, professor of law and associate dean for faculty research and development, is director of the “Zealous Advocacy for Social Change” conference. Lofaso was the 2013-14 WVU Claude Worthington Benedum Distinguished Scholar in the Humanities and the Arts for her work in the area of labor law jurisprudence.

The West Virginia Law Review intends to publish papers presented at the conference in spring 2015.
For more information on the “Zealous Advocacy for Social Change” conference, including the agenda and participants’ biographies, visit



CONTACT: James Jolly, College of Law, (304) 293-0457

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.