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Working For A Union As A Law Grad – Alternative Legal Careers

If you’re looking for public interest careers, watch this interview with former labor lawyer Kathy Finn.

Kathy went to law school in order to help others. She launched her career at a law firm and found that labor law allowed her to help many people at once. But it was leaving the law to start working for a union where Kathy really connected with her passions.

Today, Kathy helps negotiate union contracts with employers as a director of collective bargaining. Find out what exactly this means in the video below.
Join JD Careers Out There for access to this video plus more day-in-the-life career path interview videos & transcripts.
 
 
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Today’s Guest

Collective Bargaining Director Kathy Finn Collective Bargaining Director Kathy Finn
Title: Director of Collective Bargaining, UFCW Local 770
City: Los Angeles, CA
Law School: UCLA in Los Angeles, CA
College: UC Santa Barbara in Santa Barbara, CA
Previous Career: Labor lawyer
Videos: Collective Bargaining Director & Kathy’s Career Advice
 

Public Interest Careers

Working for a union can be controversial. Many argue that unions are bad for business. But after explaining what collective bargaining is, Kathy shares why she feels she’s making a difference as a director of collective bargaining for a union and shares examples of particular workers her union has helped. She also explains why she prefers working in the labor movement rather than other public interest careers like legal aid.

If you’re looking for law graduate jobs that allow you to serve others, watch Kathy’s full interview to find out what you can do with a JD working for a union and how to break into this career path.
 

TRANSCRIPT PREVIEW

This is a preview of the transcript for the video on union careers.

Join JD Careers Out There for access to the full version of this transcript plus the career guidance video library & transcripts.

Luber: Hey everyone – welcome to JD Careers Out There, where we help lawyers and law students find and succeed in fulfilling careers. And a big part of finding a fulfilling career is figuring out what path fits you.

So today we’re gonna explore one of those paths. We’re gonna look at what it’s like working for a union. This path is one of the non-legal jobs for lawyers worth exploring if you’re interested in labor and employment law or interested in leaving the law.

I’m your host Marc Luber, the founder of JDCOT. I’ve always used my law degree to work in alternative careers for lawyers – first in the music industry and then as a legal recruiter. I’ve been helping lawyers with their careers since 2003 and I’m excited for the opportunity to help you.

Our guest is Kathy Finn and she’s the Director of Collective Bargaining for the Local UFCW 770, which is the United Food and Commercial Workers in Southern California. Kathy’s gonna tell us all about working for a union and being a Director of Collective Bargaining. Kathy, welcome to JD Careers Out There and thanks for joining us!

Kathy: Thanks for having me.

Luber: Absolutely. I’m really glad you’re here. Kathy, I’m gonna ask you to tell us what it means to be a director of collective bargaining for a union, and then we’re gonna dig in to a typical day, who makes the right fit for this kind of path, what skill sets and personality types fit, what skills from law school are used, and then how to break in and how to succeed.

So let’s start with the first part and tell us in broad strokes, what do you do as a director of collective bargaining, working for a union?

Kathy: First, collective bargaining is when a group of workers join together to negotiate their wages, hours, working conditions with their employer. And that’s basically the whole point of a union is workers joining collectively to get better bargaining power rather than an individual going in and asking for a raise. You’ve got the whole workforce coming in together and asking for a raise or better working conditions.

So as the Director of Collective Bargaining, I am the person basically responsible for all the contracts that my union has with the various employers where we represent the workers.

So I work for the United Food and Commercial Workers union. Our biggest sector is grocery workers.

So we represent the workers who work at Ralph’s, Vons, Albertsons, Gelsons, Stater Brothers, some other grocery stores, we also do drug stores including Rite Aid and CVS as well as some meat packing, meat processing and some healthcare workers that work at Kaiser.

And we have different contracts with all these different employers so we probably have about 80 contracts and I’m responsible for making sure they all get renegotiated each time they open up.

Luber: I like to ask everybody to defend their career path. So just like I asked a personal injury lawyer that I interviewed: “tell us why you’re not an ambulance chaser.” I want to ask you a similar question and I want to say that people would say to you, “you’re helping unions who are driving up the costs of doing business, you’re chasing business out of California because you’re making it more expensive for business.” What would you say to that argument?

Kathy: I just don’t see it that way. I think unions are providing workers with a voice on the job to be able to have some input into what they are earning.

The balance of power in a typical workplace is so so skewed towards the boss. Most people are afraid to ask for anything of their boss because they’re afraid they’re gonna be retaliated against.

Unions basically provide people an opportunity to be able to have some say in what they earn and what their working conditions are on the job. Currently, in this country, we have so few laws that protect workers compared to most developed countries that unions are really the only thing out there that are doing that job of making sure workers are protected.

People work really hard and they really deserve to make a living wage. They should be able to have healthcare, to be able to know that when they’re too old to continue working after they’ve given most of their productive years to an employer that they’re gonna have a pension to rely on. So that’s basically why I do this job.

Luber: Alright, I feel the passion! Hearing your “why” is so important.

I hope all of you out there are figuring out what your “why” is – that will help you to find the right career for you. Our self-assessment, the Career Mirror, can help to get you thinking about your “why”.

Hearing what all of our guests here on JDCOT have to say about their paths can really help you connect with that “why” as well.

We’ll hear lots more from Kathy on her path working for a union in the Full Interview. Kathy’s gonna tell us all about what it’s like to be a director of collective bargaining, who makes the right fit for these alternative careers for lawyers, what skills from law school are used all the time, how to break in and how to succeed.

You’ll want to join the JDCOT membership for access to the full, in-depth career interviews & transcripts that will help you find and land a career that fits you. Check out what people are saying about JDCOT by clicking here.

Thanks again for watching everybody. I’m Marc Luber and I’ll see ya soon.

[theme song]

©2019 Careers Out There

 
How does working for a union as a director of collective bargaining sound to you? Let us know what you think about public interest careers in the Comments section below.

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GET MY FREE SELF-ASSESSMENT!

Thinking of leaving the law? The best first step you can take is a good look in the mirror. START HERE:

it's free!
You’ll also get periodic updates, reminders & access to career guidance programs sent to your inbox. We respect your privacy. You can unsubscribe via a click at any time.