From left, Mayor Mark Luttrell, Gail Tyree and Dr. Kenneth Robinson

From left, Mayor Mark Luttrell, Gail Tyree and Dr. Kenneth Robinson

“Taking it back to the businesses, to the union halls, to the plants, and to the cafeterias” – that was one of the key themes of this year’s Tennessee Labor Management Mid-Year conference, which stressed the importance of a viable workforce to our local economy.

The conference (held last week at the Holiday Inn, at the University Of Memphis) featured local leaders including Jim Strickland, City of Memphis Mayor; Mark Luttrell, Shelby County Mayor; Chad Mee, President of the Tennessee Labor Management Foundation; and Dr. Kenneth S. Robinson, President / CEO of United Way.

Dr. Robinson provided the invocation and talked with attendees about partnerships to help bring in more viable workers to local businesses.

“We appreciate the goals of the Tennessee Labor Management Foundation,” Robinson said. “Thank you for your desire to work together to address contemporary issues that are very, very critical to the workplace.  There are many large employers in this city and some of our best partners are here, but we realize every year many employees come into jobs but don’t stay in jobs.  United Way and our nonprofit partners are trying to help people gain ‘soft skills’ so that they can become more viable employees and continue to produce the best products and provide the best services.”

Luttrell said his 20-year tenure in Federal Government as Director of Labor Management Relations for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons in Washington helped him develop a profound appreciation for the role that labor plays in America.

“There are reasons unions exist, to protect the rights of workers,” he said. “It’s important that workers have labor organizations to help them work through the myriad intricacies of Federal employment. It’s also vital that we have a strong labor movement when developing our workforce.”

The conference brings labor and management together to improve relations and resolve workplace issues, helping companies generate profitable business in both the public and private sectors.

To learn more about what labor management is doing, please go to

Special thanks to the labor and management organizing committee who put the event together: Luther Bennett, FMCS; Kevin Bradshaw, Kellogg; Irvin Calliste, Memphis AFL-CIO; Chandell Carr, City of Memphis; Vincent Dean, Carrier; William Jones; Dee Pollion, Carrier; Tovahn Scott, Carrier; Rose Turner, Kroger; Gail Tyree, United Way of the Mid-South.

Please see the photo gallery below – click on an image to see it in a larger size: