Scholarship Honors the Life and Work of the MLBPA’s Late Executive Director
NEW YORK, June 29, 2022 – The Major League Baseball Players Trust today announced five recipients of the 2022 Michael Weiner Scholarship for Labor Studies, marking the eighth year it has provided support to aspiring worker advocates in the name of the former MLBPA executive director. Each recipient will receive a $10,000 scholarship from the Players Trust to assist in academic costs for the 2022-2023 school year.
“The Weiner Family is grateful to the MLBPA for remembering Mike by helping five graduate students a year pursue careers in the labor movement,” said Diane Margolin, wife of the late executive director. “Mike never hesitated to make the case for job safety, respect for workers, and a living wage. We are happy to support five more voices in this cause.”
Weiner, known for his keen intellect and plain-speaking, congenial demeanor, joined the MLBPA as a staff attorney in 1988 and in December 2009 succeeded Donald Fehr to become the union’s fourth executive director. He held the position until November 2013, when at age 51 he passed away following a 15-month battle with an inoperable brain tumor.
“From the work they have already done to the work they will do in the future, our recipients are amazing representatives and stewards of Michael’s legacy,” said Amy Hever, Director of the Players Trust. “We could not be more excited by the individuals selected by the committee this year to receive the Michael Weiner Scholarships. We look forward to supporting them through their law school journey and career.”
The following scholars have been selected for their achievement and commitment to pursuing careers dedicated to improving workers’ lives:
Maria Amanda Flores – Northeastern University
Flores’ passion for organized labor as a way to confront oppression and improve people’s lives was spurred by her involvement with a union organization campaign at the nonprofit where she worked.
She is currently involved in Filipino grassroots community organizing as chair of the Northeastern Employment and Law Association, where she brings her perspective as a labor activist to connect workers in the U.S. and her home country, the Philippines. Using her background as an anthropologist, (future) attorney, and artist, Flores plans to advocate for domestic and international workers and eventually create a graphic novel to honor the stories of people involved in the movement.
Aaron Bryce Lee – Yale University
An immigrant from South Korea, Lee is committed to helping build worker power and solidarity. He has been active in supporting healthcare workers in SEIU 1199-NE, building service, airport, and fast food workers in SEIU 32BJ, and seafood industry supply chain workers in New England. Through his range of experiences, Lee has affirmed his belief that organizing the working class is crucial in liberating marginalized populations and people of color from exploitation in the workplace. Lee believes the knowledge and skills he has accrued must be shared for the benefit of the less fortunate in society. He hopes to work for a union or worker center and further the cause of workers seeking better wages, working conditions, security, and dignity.
Juan Fernando Luna Leon – Yale University
As the son of an undocumented construction worker, Luna watched contractors force his community to labor under life-threatening conditions for poverty-level wages. Inspired by his personal experiences, Luna joined Workers Defense Project (WDP) after he graduated from Texas A&M University. At WDP, he oversaw weekly wage claim clinics and organized immigrant construction workers. At law school, Luna has been involved in the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic. He will dedicate his career to supporting and organizing campaigns that improve the lives of working people, and in particular, undocumented communities.
Chris Rowley – University of Colorado Boulder
A former Minor and Major League pitcher, Rowley developed an interest in the labor movement during his playing career and was involved with the MLBPA in bargaining for better player support during COVID-19 and the nonprofit Advocates for Minor Leaguers to improve working conditions for his colleagues. He was inspired to attend law school after seeing the hardships and exploitation of Minor Leaguers that result from disparate bargaining power, and hopes to further his work in helping Minor Leaguers secure a seat at the table and benefit from collective bargaining.
Forrest Stewart – University of Wisconsin-Madison
Troubled by economic inequality, climate catastrophe and the subjugation of marginalized people, Stewart knew he wanted to focus his career on fighting injustice. Inspired by the historical achievements of the labor movement, particularly during his semester in Latin America, Stewart recognized that the universality of workers’ interests uniquely positions the labor movement to address the threats facing humanity while simultaneously improving people’s lives. As a law student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Stewart has represented workers and tenants in disputes through UW’s Neighborhood Law Clinic, and has worked with individual employees and unions through his clerkship at Hawks Quindel, S.C. As an attorney, he will continue representing workers and unions in their struggle for justice.
The Michael Weiner Scholarship for Labor Studies program launched in July 2014 to commemorate the life and work of Weiner by recognizing and supporting the efforts of people dedicated to improving the lives of workers – characteristics that were embodied by Weiner in his personal life, his studies and throughout his 25-year career with the Players Association.
Scholarship recipients are selected by a committee made up of some of those who were closest to Weiner, both professionally and personally. Serving on the committee along with Margolin are MLBPA Contract Administrator Cindy Abercrombie, Assistant General Counsel Bob Lenaghan, General Counsel Ian Penny, and Outside Counsel Jeff Fannell.
To date, the Players Trust has distributed $400,000 in scholarships to future labor leaders through the program. For more information on this year’s scholarship recipients and the legacy of Michael Weiner, please visit the Michael Weiner Scholarship page.
About the Players Trust
Established in 1996, the Major League Baseball Players Trust is the charitable arm of the Major League Baseball Players Association. The Players Trust is a 501©3 non-profit organization that harnesses the expertise, influence, and passions of players to create meaningful and sustainable change in the lifelong well-being of others. The organization amplifies the social impact of players throughout the communities where they live, play, and call home, impacting thousands of nonprofits and individuals around the world. For additional information, please visit www.playerstrust.org. Follow the Players Trust on Twitter (@MLBPlayersTrust) and on Instagram (@mlbplayerstrust).