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Maine AFL-CIO Student Intern Katie Schools: “My whole life experience led me to the Labor Movement”

Andy O’Brien
15 Sep, 2022
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This past May, University of Southern Maine student Katie Schools joined the Maine AFL-CIO as a student intern. A senior at USM, Katie’s internship is through the University’s Food Studies Program and her research is focused on the conditions of food service workers.

She has also been helping to set up organizing trainings, generating community support for workers unionizing and providing updates to central labor councils.

“It’s honestly been a life changing experience. I know that sounds dramatic, but I’ve learned and taken away so much,” Katie says of her intern experience. “What’s been the most impactful is the bravery of these workers in standing up against injustices, even though it’s scary and difficult. If we stick together and have solidarity we can overcome this. That’s the most important thing I’ve learned.”

Katie says life experience led her to the labor movement. As the child of working class parents, she grew up in Gray and held jobs in food service and farm work, where she became acutely aware of problems working people face in the workplace. Her family struggled during the Great Recession, which forced her father to change careers. After being exposed to labor history while taking a philosophy course in college, Katie says she was inspired to take more labor courses and is now pursuing a career in the labor movement.

“I got to a point where I personally had suffered so much in my work and had seen so many people suffer that for me it was a moral imperative to get involved,” she said. “The best part of this experience is everyone I have met and talked to. Meeting people and hearing their stories has been so inspiring. Everyone in the labor movement has been so welcoming and so kind.”

Katie's internship runs through the end of this year.