The employees he represented, first as a union staff lawyer then general counsel and finally executive director, happened to be professional baseball players. But Weiner felt strongly about all workers having a voice in the workplace.
Even during his year-plus battle with an inoperable brain tumor before his death in November 2013 at age 51, Weiner chose to come to his office regularly to do the day-to-day work of representing the members of his union. It was his calling.
That is why in Weiner's legacy the Michael Weiner Scholarship for Labor Studies was founded: to recognize, inspire and support a new generation of union leaders, dedicated to the preservation and growth of the labor movement in the United States.
In its first year, the Michael Weiner Scholarship received more than 90 eligible applicants from 61 different schools across the United States. Of the 90 applicants, five outstanding students were selected by a scholarship review committee to receive awards based on their commitment to the pursuit of improving workers' lives.
Each of the following recipients will receive a $10,000 scholarship from the Players Trust to assist in their academic costs:
John Ertl, from Park Falls, Wisc., is working toward his Union Leadership and Administration master's degree in labor studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Julie Gilgoff, from New York, is studying to become a labor attorney at CUNY School of Law.
Sarah David Heydemann, from Montclair, N.J., is a student at Northeastern University School of Law and wants to work for a membership-based organization as a lawyer whose work is deeply embedded in ongoing organizing.
Joseph Landry, from New Ipswich, N.H., is in law school at Columbia Law School to build the economic and political power of working people as a devoted labor lawyer.
Akasha Perez, from San Jose, Calif., is a student at Howard University School of Law whose goal is to open a clinic in which attorneys and law students can assist low-wage and migrant workers in legal matters.
"Michael would be pleased and proud of the quality of character and level of compassion demonstrated by each applicant," said Diane Margolin, Weiner's wife and a member of the scholarship review committee. "Each of our winners has clearly demonstrated a strong commitment to protecting and improving the rights of workers. Having personally reviewed each application, I am confident the labor movement will strengthen and improve over time."
To be eligible for the Michael Weiner Scholarship for Labor Studies, individuals must be graduate or law students enrolled in accredited educational institutions in the United States or Canada and must have a demonstrated interest and aspire to a career working in the labor movement and on behalf of workers' rights.
To receive an award, eligible candidates must meet a combination of criteria including a superior academic record, a demonstrated commitment to the labor movement, a strong recommendation from an academic or a labor/worker's rights practitioner, and an excellent display of written and oral communication skills.
Preference also is given to those who can demonstrate financial need through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) scores or otherwise.
The scholarship application for the 2016 Michael Weiner Scholarship for Labor Studies will be posted in June 2015 at playerstrust.org.