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School of Labor and Employment Relations University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


The Labor Education Program (LEP) is based on the strong belief that education plays an important role in helping every American worker realize the promise of economic opportunity.


The only state-wide labor education program, LEP was formally established in early 1947 in response to the educational demands of workers belonging to newly-formed unions. Over time, the program’s mission of worker outreach, education and participatory-action research has expanded to serve low-wage and other marginalized workers in addition to union members. LEP made a strategic move to conduct labor education programming outside of the Chicago area to meet the diverse needs of the one million members of the Illinois labor movement.


With offices in Urbana and Chicago, LEP provides educational programs for over 2,000 union members and other workers each year. Most classes are held in the evening or on weekends in various locations throughout Illinois – including union halls, workplaces, community organizations, worker centers and schools, as well as online. Week-long residential summer programs are held on the university’s Urbana campus. This year’s schedule of programs and special events continues the tradition of high quality education that trade union members and working people from around the state have come to expect from our faculty.


LEP faculty also conducts community-based research to support worker struggles and contribute to popular understanding of the issues facing workers and the region’s vibrant labor history.


If you have suggestions about how LEP can be used as a resource to your union/organization, please contact us.