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

Certificate in Labor Studies

The Certificate in Labor Studies lays the foundation for educated union participation and future leadership.

This program is an introduction to the labor movement and builds toward a more intensive development of labor education. Classes are for current union leaders, new members, activists, union staff, people who want to meet people from other unions, worker centers, and working people who want to learn about the labor movement.

Below is a description of our 2020-2021 Certificate Program, including the dates and times in which each class meets.

Registration Link

Online Payment Portal Link

For more information, email Barbara Nelson or call 312-996-2127.

Certificate Program Course Offerings, Online

Fall 2020 – Spring 2021

Steward Training – Saturday, October 3, 2020
9AM – 1PM

Steward Training – Saturday, October 10, 2020
9AM – 1PM

The class will discuss how to investigate, screen, write, and negotiate a grievance; the seven principles of just cause; the law including the legal right of union stewards, unfair labor practices, and the duty of fair representation; and past practice grievances. The class will discuss several common grievance areas, and we will practice resolving grievances.

Labor History – Saturday, October 24, 2020
9AM – 1PM

Labor History – Saturday, October 31, 2020
9AM – 1PM

In this two part virtual class, we will learn how different groups of workers are all confronted by the same challenges and strategies used by employers to keep power away from workers. We will study the rise of the American labor movement from a variety of perspectives as we learn about major movements, protests and strikes, and legislative victories and defeats. While the class is online, I will be sure to create engaging and stimulating activities that allow everyone to engage with historical documents and discuss the relevance of historical events to the lives and experiences of workers today.

Internal Organizing – Saturday, December 5, 2020
9AM – 1PM

Internal Organizing – Saturday, December 12, 2020
9AM – 1PM

The class will discuss ways to educate, organize, and mobilize the members. We will review examples of how some locals have succeeded in transforming their unions. Topics include collective action around grievances; confronting and overcoming divisions such as over race, gender, or immigration status; responding to apathetic or anti-union members; organizing member-to-member action networks and contract campaigns; and building strategic campaigns and labor- community alliances.

Certificate Program Course Offerings, In-Person

Fall 2020 – Spring 2021

Media Matters: Establishing effective messaging for social media campaigns and the press – Saturday, November 7, 2020
9AM – 5PM

This class will provide interactive instruction on building an effective union media strategy. Topics include building your message; writing a press release; writing letters to the editor; how to talk to the press; and creative and impactful social media strategies. The emphasis of the course will be developing inclusive media messaging that amplifies union member’s stories and voices.