The summer NAGLO Conference will be in downtown Minneapolis on July 26-29, 2015. Registration will be open online by May 1 at www.naglo.org.
While Minnesota is known as the land of 10,000 lakes, there seems to be just as many summer activities in Minneapolis. The city is known for its hospitality, vibrant cultural scene, shopping and entertainment. Overall, it’s a perfect blend of natural beauty and urban sophistication.
Dates: July 26-29, 2015
The Marquette Hotel: www.marquettehotel.com
Room rate: $199 each night
Valet parking: $34 each day/overnight
Our hosts from Minnesota are busy planning this summer’s 2015 NAGLO Conference during July 26-29, 2015. They are lining up group tours, contacting speakers and planning on perfect weather for a trip via the light rail train to the Twins game at Target Field in Minneapolis.
The NAGLO Conference agenda will feature a variety of activities that begin with the welcome reception on July 26 and continue on July 27 and 28 with a variety of talented speakers, great food and local worksite visits.
Conference attendees will stay at The Marquette Hotel and many of the NAGLO meetings will be conducted in the hotel’s premier event center, WINDOWS on Minnesota, which offers breathtaking views of downtown Minneapolis.
If you add Minneapolis’ hospitality, vibrant cultural scene, shopping and entertainment, this conference will be a perfect opportunity to network with fellow NAGLO members and enjoy the city.
For more updates, click here.
In November, a NAGLO delegation visited the Republic of China, more commonly known as Taiwan. The island is about the size of Maryland and has a population of about 23 million. The visit allowed state and federal labor officials an opportunity to have meetings and learn about the official ministries of the government and understand more about Taiwan’s labor, economic, and social programs.
The delegation included NAGLO President Larry L. Roberts from Kentucky, First Vice President Ryan McKenna from Missouri, Federal Labor Relations Authority Member Ernie DuBester, Commissioner Hal Wirths from New Jersey, Commissioner Mark Costello from Oklahoma, Chairman Andres Alcantar from Texas, Commissioner Sherrie Hayashi from Utah, Commissioner Ray Davenport of Virginia and Deputy Commissioner Christie Hammond of Oregon.
The trip was jointly sponsored by Taiwan’s Ministry of Labor Affairs and its Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The delegation visited many of the offices within the Ministry of Labor, learning first-hand how Taiwan chooses to promote the dignity of work, the welfare of workers and the sustainable development of enterprises.
The delegates saw the National Palace Museum, one of the most popular museums in the world, with cultural artifacts going back through several Chinese dynasties. They travelled to Kinmen Island, famous for its Kaoliang liquor and Kinmen knives, which come from the remains of artillery shells fired in World War II and by mainland China between 1958 and 1978. They went to the top of Taipei 101, an engineering marvel that held the distinction of being the world’s tallest building until 2010. They visited the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, a shrine to the person most Taiwanese credit with Taiwan’s autonomy. On their final night, they had a special dinner at the Grand Hotel, one of Taiwan’s most visible landmarks.
Weathering the Storms
The typhoons can come in late summer and early fall, and one big storm system can sweep across the whole island of Taiwan, from the jagged, volcanic mountains in the east to the gently sloping plains in the west. It’s the world’s fourth largest island, but at about 14,000 square miles, the entire territory could fit within most states in the U.S.
The islanders who live there have weathered storms throughout their entire history, from various struggles of national ownership and official sovereignty to enduring the Chinese Civil War, to decades of Martial law and the “White Terror” of 1949 to 1987, when thousands of people were executed or thrown in prison on accusations of pro-Communist ties.
Disputes continue today. China claims Taiwan’s government is illegitimate, while Taiwan, officially called the Republic of China, views itself as independent nation — and elects its own president and maintains its own armed forces. The United Nations has rejected Taiwan’s admission 15 times, and the U.S. considers Taiwan’s status as “unsettled.” In all, the whole situation remains in a legal state of limbo, with the citizens caught in the middle.
Working with Dignity
Despite all the political complications, the people of Taiwan have persevered. Their economy ranks in the top 20 in the world in GDP and purchasing power parity. In addition to being a member of NAGLO, Taiwan is a member of the World Trade Organization and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Labor gave the delegation a handout on its administrative principles, which delegate Ryan McKenna says focused on the people of Taiwan, especially their well-being and dignity.
“The emphasis that Taiwan put on the well-being of her citizens from birth until death really inspired me,” he says.
McKenna quoted the handbook, which included the following: “We hope to call for respect for workers to be at the heart of labor policy, ensuring the welfare of workers and the sustainable development of enterprises, sharing the benefit of increased salaries and economic growth…bringing prosperity to the economy and achieving social justice, letting people live their working lives with dignity.”
“I believe those goals are at the heart of a civilized and compassionate society,” says McKenna. “We should all strive to achieve the worthy goal of people living their lives with dignity.”
The People are the Key
“Without exception, everyone we met was gracious, warm and friendly,” says Christie Hammond, Oregon Labor and Industries Deputy Commissioner. “The hospitality and generosity of the Taiwanese was like none I have ever seen before, including in our own country. Although I learned much about the Taiwan government and its functions, most memorable to me will always be the warmth of the people.”
Ryan McKenna echoed the sentiments, saying he was impressed with the incredible hospitality and graciousness from the people of Taiwan, especially the guide of the delegation, Vincent Huang. “Vincent went above and beyond what I would have expected to give us a truly memorable experience,” says McKenna. “We had too many meetings to mention, but he still found time to allow us to have fun and experience the culture of his beautiful country.”
Federal Labor Relations Authority Member Ernie DuBester was the lone federal representative in the group, and he also found the people to have a profound effect. “The Taiwanese are a very friendly people. I think we were all taken with their vitality and optimism,” he says. “They are also a determined people. Having gotten to know them better, I can understand their economic and political accomplishments, namely, how they have achieved democracy, freedom, and prosperity peacefully.”
Sixteen hundred feet above the glittering lights of a sprawling city stands the tip of Taipei 101. The skyscraper was the world’s tallest building from 2004 to 2010. It is designed to withstand a typhoon or a massive earthquake. Like the people of Taiwan, it is a marvel that triumphs over adversity, and it is a symbol of stability around a world of complex and uncertain times.
NAGLO President Larry Roberts says the lessons of the trip will linger with each member for years to come.
“If the state of Taiwan is “unsettled” — the people are strong and secure,” says Roberts. “Just like Taipei 101, they are building what they dream, including a powerful economy and a workforce based on dignity. They aren’t letting problems stop them from daring to be great. These are lessons that they shared with me and my fellow NAGLO members, and from that and the opportunities we shared by meeting and talking with each other on this trip, we are all stronger labor leaders because of it.”
A Special Thanks
All the members of the NAGLO delegation owe a sincere debt of gratitude to Vincent Huang, who served as the guide for the visit. He was an outstanding and gracious host — who made all members feel at home. Thank you, Vincent!
Member, Federal Labor Relations Authority
Last November, I had the privilege of serving as head of an American delegation on a trip to Taiwan. My eight colleagues all serve essentially as the labor commissioners of their respective states. Among the eight were Larry Roberts of Kentucky, the current NAGLO president, and Ryan McKenna of Missouri, NAGLO’s current first vice president.
It was a wonderful experience, and fascinating in so many ways and at so many levels. Taiwan’s Ministry of Labor and its Ministry of Foreign Affairs co-sponsored the trip. We visited many of the offices within the Ministry of Labor, learning firsthand how Taiwan chooses to promote the dignity of work, the welfare of workers, and the sustainable development of enterprises.
But we learned so much more. The Taiwanese are a very friendly people. I think we were all taken with their vitality and optimism. They are also a determined people. Having gotten to know them better, I can understand their economic and political accomplishments, namely, how they have achieved democracy, freedom, and prosperity peacefully.
Taiwan is also an intriguing blend of traditional and modern culture. At the National Palace Museum, one of the most popular museums in the world, we saw cultural artifacts going back through several Chinese dynasties. We went to the top of Taipei 101, an engineering marvel that held the distinction of being the world’s tallest building from 2004 to 2010. We visited the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, a shrine to the person most Taiwanese credit with Taiwan’s autonomy. And, on our last night, we had a special dinner at the Grand Hotel, one of Taiwan’s most visible landmarks, and apparently, a project of Madame Chiang Kai-Shek. Many political figures and celebrities have stayed there over the years.
Yes, we share many values with Taiwan’s people, certainly those of a democracy and those reflecting a commitment to human rights. And, we have a long history of economic ties and industrial cooperation. But, not to be left out, is our love of baseball. While we were there, we repeated a custom of exchanging gifts with our hosts. No gift that I presented brought more spontaneous joy to a recipient than that of an official Washington Nationals baseball cap. Baseball is a national pastime in Taiwan.
Through it all, perhaps most sobering was a constant recognition of Taiwan’s unique standing in the world — having all the attributes of an official state except formal recognition by most others, including the U.S. Since 1979, we, along with most nations, have officially recognized mainland China and not Taiwan. For this reason, Taiwan constantly faces challenges to assert its place in the world order and exercise its responsibilities in international relations.
Most poignant, for me, was our delegation’s trip to the island of Kinmen. In addition to Taiwan proper, Taiwan has jurisdiction over several smaller islands, including Kinmen (which we formerly called Quemoy) and Matsu. Both islands are very close to the mainland, which we could see from Kinmen. In 1960, as a very young boy with an early interest in political affairs nurtured by my parents, I remember watching the debates between presidential candidates John Kennedy and Richard Nixon. One debate focused on foreign policy, and a significant portion of time was devoted to America’s responsibilities regarding Kinmen (Quemoy) and Matsu.
In 1950, Kinmen was the site of a terrible battle between Nationalist and Communist forces — in which several thousand men died. But, the Nationalist forces of Chiang Kai-Shek defeated the Communists, thereby preserving Taiwan’s freedom. We were all quite moved to see the shrines built to honor those who died. It was a vivid reminder of how quickly the world could change and how vigilant we must be in protecting democracy. The question debated by Kennedy and Nixon is even more intriguing today, particularly given the changes in the world order since the 1970s.
Finally, a discussion of this trip would be incomplete without referring to our delegation. As mentioned, I was the only federal official among eight state representatives. There were many different viewpoints within the group, including those of a political nature. But, we all got along well, and, I thought, enjoyed one another. There were a lot of laughs. But, I also had the sense that each of us appreciated that we were part of an American delegation representing our country. If anyone from our delegation visited Washington, DC, I would welcome them as a friend.
In this sense, it reinforced for me a notion that I think is often lost here at home. When we discuss, or even vigorously debate, issues of any kind, we do so as Americans with our country’s and respective states’ interests in mind. Indeed, our country was founded on disagreement and dissent — and expression is one of our most cherished freedoms.
It’s a great honor to serve as NAGLO President, and I know we all share a similar passion for protecting the working people we represent. Together we make each other better, and it’s the collaboration and cooperation that makes NAGLO so important to us.
NAGLO has been around longer than any of us. Formed in 1914, the same year as the outbreak of the First World War, it began in a world of great changes in the labor landscape. The start of NAGLO came just three years after the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, one of the deadliest industrial disasters in U.S. history. In 1913, the U.S. Dept. of Labor was formed, and so NAGLO came along during the dawn of an era of concern for the safety and welfare of America’s workers.
That same torch has been passed down to us, and we would be naïve to think that employers will always take good care of their workers. The sad truth is that there will always be companies who try to cut corners on safety and cheat their workers out of fair wages. But, that is where we come in — our efforts keep the playing fields level and improve labor climates, which in turn can strengthen the workforce and the economy.
Thank you for being part of NAGLO, and thank you for carrying on the tradition that began in 1914 and lives on with us today.
Registration opens on the http://www.naglo.org website on May 1 for the upcoming summer conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I look forward to seeing you at the conference!
Larry L. Roberts,