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

Customized Course Catalog

Arbitration Preparation
Thorough investigations, effective evidence gathering techniques, witness briefing and statement preparation are all critical components of good and successful arbitration cases. This practical course is designed to increase your representation skills and will allow you some “hands on” experience in mock arbitration hearing exercises.

Construction Labor Law for Building Trade Unionists
This course is an overview of federal labor law with a focus on the construction industry.  Class sessions will include discussions of key NLRB and Court decisions interpreting relevant statutes.  Emphasis will be placed on such topics as pre-hire agreements and certifications, job-site organizing and salting, unfair labor practices, secondary activity, boycotts, strikes, hiring hall regulation as well as federal and state prevailing wage laws.

Collective Bargaining & Effective Negotiation
This course focuses on the preparations for negotiations with an employer, including costing the collective bargaining agreement, searching for contract language, assembling a bargaining committee, and preparing the membership. It will also examine some of the alternative approaches at the bargaining table, how to gain leverage, evaluating proposals and counter-proposals, building packages, and getting contracts ratified  This course will use group activities and role plays to teach the “nuts and bolts” of preparing for and bargaining over pay, fringes and others conditions of employment. Discussion will focus on analysis of bargaining power and include the following topics: Developing Wage and Fringe Benefit Proposals, Measuring Employer’s Ability to Pay, Costing out the Contract Bargaining Contract Language, Legal Rights and Obligations, Traditional and Innovative Techniques, and Mobilizing Membership.

Improving Communications with Hispanic Workers
Mejorando Comunicación con los Trabajadores Hispanos
This class will give you a better understanding of the various Hispanic cultures. Knowing these differences can help in avoiding future misunderstandings. We will discuss how to approach workers on a one-to-one basis and get them involved with the union to work on issues together. Participation by all members makes the union stronger, more powerful; receive more respect and recognition by management.

Esta clase te dará un mejor entendimiento de las diferentes culturas Hispanas. Sabiendo estas diferencias puede ser la diferencia en evitar malos entendimientos en el futuro. Discutiremos como dirigirse a los trabajadores de uno a uno y envolverlos con la unión para trabajar juntos. Participación por todos los miembros hace la unión más fuerte, más poderosa, recibe más respeto y reconocimiento por la gerencia.

Introduction to Basic Communications Skills 
This course will address various ways to express labor’s message to union members, employers, elected officials, and the community through written and verbal communications. Students will learn effective ways to use press conferences, blast faxes, etc., to support bargaining, organizing, and political action.  Learn how to become a more effective speaker and overcome fears of public presentations. Course material will include effective listening and speaking techniques for better interpersonal and group participation. Participants will have an opportunity to give and receive feedback on presentations in a supportive atmosphere.

Labor and the Political Process
Effective union leadership requires an understanding of how political and economic forces influence the personal and workplace fortunes of workingmen and women.  Participants in this course will discuss labor’s involvement in political activities, with an emphasis on taking leadership roles and involving union members in political action. This course examines the importance of political action on behalf of workers’ economic interests by providing answers to the following questions: Where do the conservative threats to union workers come from?  Who is behind the drive to “privatize,” “contract-out,” and “deregulate”?  What political and economic ideas are used by corporate and public officials to weaken the power of unions?  It is essential therefore, that union members understand the relationship between collective bargaining and political mobilization.  This course will prepare union members to make the connection between politics, pocketbook issues and worker empowerment.

Labor History and Working Class Formation
This class traces the development of the labor movement and the contributions unions have made to society. Discussion will focus on the following questions: What economic and social factors shaped the labor movement? How was America’s working class developed? What events influenced the rise of organized labor? How did working men and women respond to oppression? What forms of shop floor resistance did workers use to win dignity on the shop floor? What role did workers’ culture play in preserving the union tradition? This class will include the use of video tape, labor movies and labor music to express the richness of labor’s story. Key labor struggles, including the Pullman Railroad Strike, Haymarket Affair, The Memorial Day Massacre, and General Motors Sit-Down will be closely examined.

Employment Law
This course is an overview of the major areas of national and state private and public sector employment laws. Students will discuss statutes that govern the workplace, including the Fair Labor Standards Act, workers compensation law, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, equal employment provisions as well as other key statutes.

Labor’s Image on TV and in the Movies
Debunk the negative views about unions that are widespread in American society! This class examines how TV and movies influence popular beliefs about work, workers, employers and unions. Class participants watch video clips from contemporary television programs and selected motion pictures dealing with the subject of labor and the work relationship. Participants discuss these negative images of labor in popular culture, and strategies for organized labor to respond to media’s anti-worker bias.

Solidarity 101
The central question of Solidarity 101 is: “How will US unions face the future?” The course is an interactive program with at least two major role plays spread over an 8 hour program. Every section includes small group work, feedback from instructors, several short lecture-discussions, and a final public speaking challenge. Sections of the program range from 45 to 80 minutes in length. This is a class for people who are going to be working together in the future – a group of apprentices, stewards, a community-union coalition, and delegates to a Central Labor Council. It builds solidarity and raises consciousness by creating a positive expectation that the toughest issues can be intelligently addressed within the group.

Organizing for the Union
This course focuses on the basic skills necessary to run effective organizing campaigns. The course begins by discussing the status of unorganized labor in the United States, what factors unions look at before making a commitment to organize, and the legal framework in which organizing occurs. Other topics include: Basic Steps of an Organizing Campaign, Communication Skills for Organizers, Techniques of Management and Management Consultants, and Internal Organizing Stratagies.

Occupational Safety and Health Training
This class is aimed at workers, union safety representatives and members of safety and health committees. It will develop basic skills in identifying and preventing safety and health hazards in the workplace. It will also help develop a cooperative problem-solving approach to safety and health, by knowing where to look for information and the issues of joint labor/management cooperation. The course will discuss: Employer and Employee Rights under OSHA, OSHA Inspection and Enforcement Procedures, the Role of Safety Committees, Joint Labor-Management Cooperation on Occupational Safety and Health and Hazard Identification Techniques.

Privatization, Deregulation and Private Profit
This course examines the efforts of market-oriented forces to auction-off public services to the highest bidder in order to dispense political patronage and to destroy public sector unions. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the principles, theories and forms of privatization and deregulation. The course will provide union leaders with strategies for identifying privatization schemes and for contesting such efforts on economic, political and public relations terms. In addition, the course is designed to help individual unions develop their own action plan to challenge public sector job loss.

The Stewards Role: Protecting Jobs and the Contract
Creating a democratic workplace is the most significant role of every steward. This class helps new and experienced stewards better understand the vital importance of their mission and the basics of their role. It provides stewards with the skills needed to manage the many demands of their job as a worksite leader. Students will focus on: Contractual Issues, Labor Laws, Employment Regulations and Ways to Mobilize Membership to Become Involved in: Collective Bargaining, Grievances and Political Issues.  Participants study how to interpret the contract, and define, investigate and write grievances in order to build the union through on-the-job problem solving.

Strategic Campaigns
This class provides union leaders and rank-and-file members with the tools to:
Confront the employers who will provoke a strike, trying to permanently replace the union workforce with non-union workers. Counteract employers who have become skilled at using contract negotiations to frustrate the legitimate ends of the collective bargaining process. Find leverage points to apply economic, political, social and moral pressure against uncooperative employers. Educate the membership on the importance of preparing for difficult contract negotiations. Mobilize the membership to get involved in a contract campaign to support the union’s negotiation team. This course represents specific alternatives to the strike, in order to overcome bargaining impasses and coercive, substandard contracts. Emphasis is on the principles of contract campaigns and the development of strategies and tactics of a sustained union drive to assert pressure on an uncooperative employer.

Strategic Planning
Successful union leaders take a proactive approach to union administration. This course will provide local union officers with tools and skills to create a strategy for union growth and effective representation. Using a framework aimed at building the union’s bargaining power, we train leaders to evaluate the external and internal environment, strengths and weaknesses of the local and develop a strategic plan for the future.

Union Leadership
Local union leaders have numerous legal, constitutional, organizational and contractual obligations that must be met. This class starts you on the way to meeting the demand of local union leadership. Expand your leadership capability by learning what components make a strong, effective leader and that can help build solidarity, increase membership involvement, and resolve internal problems. Class curriculum will include a focus on the elements of Basic Union Structure, Leadership Traits & Characteristics, and Problem Solving at the Local Level, Improving Communication Skills and Working with Committees.

Union Leadership for the Hispanic Worker**
The purpose of this class is to develop Hispanic labor leaders and train them to deal with the specific needs of your Hispanic membership. We will discuss the duties of the Stewards, the grievance procedure, defining grievances, collecting facts and interviewing members and how to negotiate grievances.

**This class is available in either English or Spanish.