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

Basic Certificate in Labor Studies

The basic certificate classes lay the foundation for educated union participation and future leadership.

The Basic Sequence has four classes that meet six times, once a week. These are designed as an introduction to the labor movement and can be followed by a more intensive advanced sequence that builds on the basic sequence. They are for current union leaders, new members, activists, union staff, people who want to meet people from other unions, and working people who want to learn about the labor movement. Because the kind of knowledge necessary for effective union membership and leadership is broad rather than narrow, we encourage people to take all four classes in each sequence. Enrollment in the advanced sequence is for graduates of the basic sequence or by permission of the instructor. Students who complete the sequence of four classes will receive a Basic Certificate in Labor Studies from the University of Illinois Chicago Labor Education Program.

Basic Steward Training
This class will look at both the technical aspects of grievance handling and the steward’s role as internal organizer and educator. We will examine what a steward needs to know; the legal rights of a union steward; the grievance procedure; processing a grievance; past practice grievances.

Introduction to the American Labor Movement
This class situates our labor movement today, both its crises and successes, in our current economic and political context. It covers the organizations and structure of the American labor movement; where unions came from in the United States; the meaning of union membership.

Introduction to Bargaining
This class looks at the process of bargaining from the date when legal notices must be submitted through the expiration of the contract and settlement or, if necessary, some other deadline option. Using a role-play format, students learn to analyze a contract, develop a bargaining proposal, practice good table behavior, negotiate, caucus, keep records, and write appropriate contract language.

Introduction to Labor Law
This class outlines the legal framework of United States labor and employment law from the point of view of a union member or leader who needs to use the protections they provide in the course of representation. Laws studied will include the NLRA, OSHA, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, Title VII, and others. Guest speakers, either spokespersons from the appropriate government offices or attorneys, will give students a first-hand look at the experience of working with these laws.