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Guild Community Spotlight: Paul Kelly and Lou Mandarini

Throughout the month of August and the first week of September, we’ll be learning about one of the key ingredients that makes Guild School special: our faculty! Check out the blog each week for interviews with instructors and inside information about their Fall Term courses.


Taught by Paul Kelly and Lou Mandarini


Main purpose of the class: understand the system of benefits in this country—where it came from, how we ended up with this, and how to navigate it

Who should take it: anyone who wants to know more about how “fringe benefits” work, including agents, officers, members, and retirees; anyone who negotiates contracts, who is or wants to be involved in the health and benefits plans of their union

Course style: balance of lecture and hands-on, focusing on history and union administration


How did this course come about?

Lou Mandarini: I’ve been teaching now for 5 or 6 years, and I don’t think there’s every been anything specifically on the topic of benefits. It is an incredibly complicated world. As unions go to negotiate contracts, the increasing cost of benefits is kind of taking over. It conditions what unions can win, because it is such a cost issue. It’s something people need to have a handle on if they’re going to be involved in union administration.


Why is this course important in the context of our political situation right now?

As you see things going on in Washington, it has very significant consequences for people who derive their benefits in a unionized setting. Understanding that system and how it works will allow you to follow the news with a more educated eye. Not a lot of people know how we have the system we ended up with. It’s relatively unusual from other countries. It’s important to know the history of how the system he have has come to be.


What will this course cover?

The course will primarily be lecture-based, covering the legal background associated with employee benefits. We will also have a hands-on component, which will be made up of 2-3 guest speakers, including an official running a health and welfare office and a representative from the department of labor who oversees employee benefits. These speakers will discuss the hands-on aspects of running a benefit fund.


What would you tell students thinking about taking this course?

Classes at the Guild are fascinating because they bring together a diverse cross section of people from many fields. This class is a chance to learn with those people about an issue impacting unions across the board.

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