Teens learn about Labor Movement at Romeo Corbeil summer camp

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ROMEO CORBEIL SUMMER CAMP attracts teens from across the nation. To understand the role of organized labor in society, teens form their own union and negotiate a contract with counselors. – University of Missouri Extension photo
ROMEO CORBEIL SUMMER CAMP attracts teens from across the nation. To understand the role of organized labor in society, teens form their own union and negotiate a contract with counselors.
– University of Missouri Extension photo

By SHERI GASSAWAY

Correspondent

Columbia, MO – One lucky group of teens will have the opportunity to learn about the labor movement and the importance of unions by attending this year's Romeo Corbeil Summer Camp.

The camp is sponsored by the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), the Missouri AFL-CIO and the Labor Education Program at the University of Missouri at Columbia. It will be held July 20 through July 25 at the university's campus in Columbia, Mo.

The camp, which is named after the late Romeo Corbeil who served as OPEIU secretary/treasurer from 1980 to 1986, is for 13- to 17-year-old participants. A group of 15 teens will be selected for the camp on June 15 by the OPEIU and co-sponsoring affiliates of the Missouri AFL-CIO.

Paul Rainsberger, director of university's Labor Education Program, said the majority of campers will be selected by the OPEIU, while local unions that have contributed donations will sponsor other teens. He noted that if there were more campers than funds for the program, campers would be selected in a lottery-style drawing.

“Our primary goal of the camp is to help young kids understand the labor movement, what unions do and how they are run," Rainsberger said. "It's a fun, interactive learning experience, and through the program, it's our hope that we are building future leaders.”

ABOUT THE CAMP

The university's Labor Education Program faculty and staff work with volunteer activists from Missouri labor organizations to provide leadership for the camp, according to the camp's website. Camp counselors are graduate and undergraduate students who have a strong commitment to the principles of the camp experience.

The teens are organized into local unions, and select representatives to serve on bargaining, education and recreation committees.

After learning the basics of union administration and collective bargaining, they conduct a series of union meetings to establish priorities and provide direction on all major decisions affecting camp operations.

The campers' bargaining committee and staff members negotiate camp rules and develop a collective bargaining agreement that goes into effect after the committee obtains ratification from the campers' local unions.

If problems arise, the bargaining committee works with staff members to ensure that a fair and equitable resolution is achieved.

GET INVOLVED

Missouri labor organizations can sponsor or assist in the sponsorship of a camper, and union leaders may volunteer to share their knowledge and expertise by attending the camp for a day or two.

Parents interested in having their teen apply to attend the camp and others seeking information about the program can contact Rainsberger at 573-882-8358 or via email at rainsbergerp@missouri.edu.

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