Select Page

Martha L. Schmidt

Educator on Human Rights and the Rights of Ecosystems
Planetary Protector

Solidarity Work

Solidarity, one of the values that drove the French Revolution, is essential for our beleaguered species and planet. To act in solidarity, for me, means to bring my heart and interests in line with others who share those interests.

Public Speaking

For me, public speaking to groups of different sizes is part of learning. Sparking interest and engaging in the exchange of ideas is a truly satisfying process. I enjoy drawing on my unique perspective as activist/intellectual to speak about ideas such as work and inequality, how international law and human rights can help build peace and democracy, and ending U.S. militarism.


Employment History

(retired from active practice 2020)

Private Practitioner (Seattle); Juvenile Defender (Snohomish, Island counties, WA); Attorney-Organizer, Seattle Worker Center; Attorney, Unemployment Law Project (Seattle); Staff Attorney, Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago
Areas of practice
Civil rights; conflict and alternative dispute resolution; employment and labor relations; intellectual property; international and comparative law; juvenile law; immigration law; consumer protection; landlord-tenant; estate planning
Advising, drafting documents, negotiations, mediation, arbitration, motions and hearings before administrative agencies, state and federal courts; class actions; appeals. Training, supervision of support staff; organizational training (English, Spanish). Continuing legal education. Legislative advocacy-bill analysis, lobbying, writing, presenting testimony. Representing large groups. Media


Adjunct Professor, Visiting Professor (The Evergreen State College, Olympia), Adjunct Lecturer (University of Washington-Bothell, University of Washington-Tacoma)
Programs and courses taught
Doing Democracy, Human Rights and Public Policy, Law and Public Policy
Mixed graduate and undergraduate
Contemporary Labor and Employment Problems, Political Economy of Human Rights, Women and the Global Economy
Human Rights: Theory and Practice, International Human Rights, International Relations of Latin America and the Caribbean, Labor and Community Organizing: a Multicultural Perspective, Organizing for Democracy: Problems and Possibilities in the 21st Century, Political Economy and Social Change: Race, Class, Gender and Political Economy and Social Movements: Race, Class and Gender, Women in the Global Economy
Teaching at college level in interdisciplinary studies and master’s level programs in public policy/administration, offering both single courses and multidisciplinary social sciences and humanities programs with one or two other faculty as part of a team. Developing curriculum and pedagogy, supervising student learning contracts and research, advising and counselling students, faculty governance.

1975- 2007

Labor unions (Seattle area)
Pacific Northwest Representative, American Guild of Musical Artists, AFL-CIO; Organizer, American Federation of Musicians, Local 76-493, AFL-CIO; Director of Organizing, International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 286, AFL-CIO; Educator-Organizer, King County Labor Council, AFL-CIO; Organizer, Service Employees International Union, Local 6, AFL-CIO
Enforcing collective agreements in public sector (education, health care, sports/entertainment) and private sector (symphonic and musical artists, staging employees, technicians, manual workers), including safety and health standards. Monitoring individual artist contracts. Drafting contract language, collective bargaining, developing labor-management committees. Organizing local, national campaigns. Mobilizing members, developing strategic organizing plans, budgets. Training members and leaders. Curriculum development, research, writing, speaking. Building communications networks, editing, writing articles for newsletters. Educating members and public about international labor rights, the global economy and the WTO.

Community and issue-based organizations (Chicago)
Executive Director, Committee for a Nuclear Overkill Moratorium; Community Organizer, Third Unitarian Church of Chicago
Organizing campaigns, city-wide, in African-American and other communities of color, with religious organizations, scientists, women’s groups, unions. Building organizational alliances. Public speaking. Public relations. Writing newsletter. Lobbying. Fundraising, budgeting. Managing volunteers. Voter registration.

Political campaigns
Adviser/Writer, Campaign to Re-elect Sally Soriano to Seattle School Board
Chair, Platform Committee and Election Monitoring Coordinator, Campaign to Elect Soliz in 20th Representative District (Chicago), Illinois
Research, writing papers, speeches, editing issue papers. Strategic advising. Organizing, supervising volunteers. Recruiting 1000 election observers.



LL.M., Law & Marine Affairs, University of Washington
(thesis: A Law and Policy Study of the Legality of Nuclear Weapons at Sea)
J.D., University of Wisconsin
Master of International Administration, School for International Training, The Experiment in International Living (management study: Cross-cultural Communications at International Secretariat, Amnesty International)
A.B., Anthropology (minor, History), Vassar College (thesis: Political Values of American Jurors)
Other: Ph.D. program, Social Anthropology, The University of Chicago; certificat, Institut International des Droits de L’Homme, Strasbourg, France


I am available to serve as a mediator in matters involving individuals and groups working for progressive social change. Please contact me for more information and to make arrangements.
Mediation Training
University of Washington Mediation Skills, certificate 2007
NW Dispute resolution training, 2003-2010
Ken Cloke: Workplace and organizational conflicts, truth to power, 2008, 2012
Bill Eddy: High conflict personalities in the workplace, on the internet, 2008 Sharon Strand Ellison: Non-violent communication, 2009
Nina Meierding: Cultural, gender differences in negotiation and mediation, 2009

Memberships and organizational affiliations
American Society of International Law; National Lawyers Guild, International Committee and Co-chair, Hawaiian Kingdom Subcommittee (Past: Co-Vice President, NW Region 2012-2014, Co-Chair, Peace & Disarmament Subcommittee 1987-97); Health Over Profits for Everyone (HOPE), Center for World Indigenous Studies (CWIS)
Speaking and workshop topics
  • International law, including international humanitarian and human rights law standards, norms; violations, Unilateral Coercive Measures used by the U.S.
  • Social and economic rights- the rights to health, to an adequate standard of living, to housing, to water and food; labor rights
  • The right of association- its civil, political, social and economic aspects-unions and voting/candidacy/public policy-making as foundational to democracy
  • Organizing for democracy (speaking and workshop)
  • Universality, interdependence and indivisibility of human rights and the rights of ecosystems
  • Economic justice, inequality and universal basic income
  • Using human rights for social change (workshop for organizers)
International solidarity activities

Colombia (Peace Accords observation delegation), NLG 2017; Venezuela (acompañante, elections), NLG 2013; Peru (criminal trial observer- Lori Berenson) 2001; El Salvador (election observer), MOECEN 1994. NLG speaker (workers and free trade regime, migrant workers in US), Canadian Association of Labour Lawyers/Association canadienne des avocats du mouvement syndical, 2013, 2018.


English, French, Spanish (read, speak, write)

Read the Blog

The Right to Health

The Right to Health

I have been working as a human rights activist for the right to health care in the U.S. for more than a decade. We need a system which takes profits out, undoes the commodification of health care and treats health as a human right. Only a national single-payer...

read more
Rights of Nature and the Concept of Buen Vivir

Rights of Nature and the Concept of Buen Vivir

We need new thinking about our relationship as a species to the rest of planet Earth. Indigenous peoples are leading the way. For example, as a result of indigenous contributions, new provisions in the Constitutions of Ecuador (2008) and Bolivia (2009) give rights to...

read more
Learning more about human rights

Learning more about human rights

UN human rights treaties can be accessed at https://treaties.un.org Information about international human rights from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights can be accessed at https://www.ohchr.org

read more
Rights of the Child

Rights of the Child

Under my leadership as Chairperson of the World Peace Through Law Section of the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA), the WSBA adopted a resolution supporting U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC),...

read more

About Me

My work experiences as an attorney, college professor and organizer have given me insights into what it means to work for a society that truly values democracy and the rule of law, human rights and the rights of ecosystems. In my role in our collective struggle, I try to pursue strategies of social change that expand human dignity and respect the Earth.  

Lets work for a better future, together!

5 + 2 =