Sam White Sam White

WVU Extension Specialist –
Institute for Labor Studies and Research

For Sam White, working with joint labor-management programs – especially in the building trades – is a labor of love. Industrial relations is a very diverse field, but White was drawn to labor-management programs because they’re about mutual gains and mutual respect.

“Good joint labor-management programs don’t just look at what people don’t have,” White says. “In a good model, everybody gets what they need.”

According to the Construction Industry Institute, shortages of skilled craft workers continue to plague the construction industry. As an associate professor in the WVU Extension Service Institute for Labor Studies and Research, White develops and teaches labor studies programs to young adults who are involved in apprentice programs, helping to prepare them for careers.

“Most of my students are 18 to 22-year-olds who are first year apprentices in one of the crafts that comprise the building trades,” White says. “In addition to teaching them how craft unions began and evolved, I try to give them an appreciation for how the various construction organizations work together to produce careers and opportunities.”

White has worked in labor studies for two decades. In addition to teaching first at Indiana University and then the University of Missouri before coming to WVU, he also helped develop solutions for real-world issues such as the first Paid Education Leave program for General Motors and the United Automobile Workers in a 17-state region, and a joint labor-management program for Noranda Aluminum Company and United Steelworkers Local 7686 that involved effective grievance administration and problem solving.

White holds a Ph.D. in United States social and labor history from the State University of New York, and an M.A. in American studies from Purdue University. He has been an ongoing and active participant in the annual Mid-Western Apprentice and Coordinators Conference, where he received the President’s Conference Award in 2011.

To contact Sam White, call 304-293-3109 or email swwhite@mail.wvu.edu.