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

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United Steel Worker Summer School (District 7)

District 7 of the United Steelworkers holds week-long training schools on the Urbana-Champaign campus in June and July.

The schools are part of a sequenced, four-year educational program offered to members of USW locals in Illinois and Indiana. The program has enrolled nearly 600 students each summer in four week-long labor education programs.

Classes may include:

First Year Students (half day classes)

  • Grievance Handling & Processing: Is it a grievance or a gripe? Rights and responsibilities under the grievance procedure.
  • Labor History: Development of workers’ organizations through struggle and collective action from the late 1890s to the present.
  • Local Union Leadership: Analysis of how local unions are supposed to function. Techniques of effective leadership and conducting meetings will be discussed and demonstrated.

Second, Third, and Fourth Year Students (half day classes):

  • Bargaining Issues: Discussion of recent developments of union contracts Including: wage increases, health care and pension benefits, staffing, job training and reassignment, plant closing and successorship.
  • Building Power Through Contract Campaigns
  • Civil Rights: Discuss the application of various protective labor laws including Civil Rights Act. Learn how you can use the law to better represent union members.
  • Economics & Politics: Why we’re here and where we need to go.
  • Effective Communications – Getting your ideas across in union meetings and other settings. Effective techniques in persuasion and winning others to your point of view will be demonstrated and practiced.
  • FMLA: Putting a new face to the Family and Medical Leave Act. Learn how you can use the law to better represent union members.
  • Grievance Handling & Processing: Is it a grievance or a gripe? Rights and responsibilities under the grievance procedure.
  • Organizing: “Organize or Vaporize” Learn how you and your fellow members can participate in Organizing and bring the “union message to the unorganized.”
  • Safety and Health on the Job: Will look into establishing an effective safety and health program in your local unit including joint labor-management health and safety committees. Will discuss your rights and responsibilities under OSHA and hazard recognition.
  • The Grievance Record & Procedures: Record-keeping and preparing for arbitration.
  • Trouble-Making: Keeping the Fires Burning: How you can motivate your own members to becoming a more dynamic workplace organization. Activities and techniques on revitalizing local unions will be discussed.
  • USW on the Front Lines to Save the Middle Class: USW’s Plan to fight back, in the Streets, the Statehouse and Beyond

All-Day Scholarship Classes

  • Collective Bargaining: Costing the contract, costing the contract proposal, art of negotiation and applicable labor laws.
  • Communicating With the Membership: Setting up local union news letters web sites and an overview on communicating with the membership.
  • Communications: This class will deal with setting up Local Union News Letters, Web sites and an overview of communicating with your membership.
  • Financial Officer Training: This class is only for Local Union Financial Officers (President, Financial Secretary, and Treasurer). The class is taught by International auditors and will hopefully keep you out of jail.
  • Hispanic Union Leadership: Classes are taught in Spanish. Dealing with: USW policies, Constitution, problem solving, and a basic overview of Local Union functions and committees. This group will be together all week.
  • New Steelworkers Training: Principles of our union, our leadership, our history, and our future.
  • Raymond G. Pasnick Alumni Class: The alumni program for local union leaders who have completed the four year Summer Institute. Will be held Monday thru Friday.
  • Safety & Health: This class will deal with building the union through Safety & Health.
  • Trustee Training: This class is only for Local Union Trustees and held Monday thru Friday at the U of Illinois. The class is taught by International auditors and is designed to make you a better trustee of the local.
  • Women of Steel: A program of the International to facilitate women’s entry into leadership positions in their local unions and their communities. Sessions will be held on grievance handling, collective bargaining, and communications with a particular emphasis on how these issues impact women workers. This group will be together all week.

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