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Union Skills Course Descriptions

It is expected that the following courses will be offered during at least one of the semesters for the current academic year. The College reserves the right to schedule courses according to availability of instructors, demand, and other circumstance that may arise. Most Union Skills Courses are worth two semester credits; students interested in receiving a third credit may do so by arranging additional assignments with the faculty member and notifying the Registrar’s Office.

COMP3010: Computer Skills for Trade Unionists - Level 1. This class covers how to use word processing, presentation, and spreadsheet applications to prepare labor union proposals, contracts, presentations, and budgets. Participants will learn how to search the Internet and effectively communicate with e-mail and web conferencing tools.  Class discussions revolve around how labor unions can best use computer technology.

LBUS3202: Media and Communications Skills for Union Activists: Getting Our Message Out. This course is a "must" for union leaders and communicators who need to mobilize support for union campaigns.  Participants will learn how to craft positive campaign messages that resonate with union members, community groups and the media and how to pitch stories, talk to reporters and stage dynamic and effective press events. Students will also learn how to strengthen their unions internally by communicating more effectively with union staff, leaders and members.  Basic skills for producing clear, consistent and persuasive union materials will be covered. (2 semester credits)

LBUS3041: Effective Communication Skills for Trade Unionists. This workshop will give union activists the opportunity to develop, reflect upon, and brainstorm strategies for improving communications between leaders, members, and the community. The workshop provides ample opportunity to practice and receive feedback on individual and group presentations. The emphasis is on removing blocks to effective communication and strengthening internal and external mobilization and solidarity.

LBUS3080: Strategic Grievance Handling. Much grievance handling is done in “servicing” mode without involving members or contributing to the organizational strength of the union.  This class, which is suitable for beginning stewards as well as experienced union representatives, focuses on using grievances to build the union. Its goal is for students to leave with revitalized organizing plans and skills to address current issues and to involve members in the daily life of the union.  Working with the actual problems students bring to class, students will analyze both relevant contract and legal rights, and the strategic and organizational issues presented.   Students will then explore how the problems can be used to build member involvement and union power by applying listening skills, surveying, mapping, charting, and campaign strategies. Particular emphasis is placed on developing concerted activities with members.  Optional evening sessions are provided for those who need information about the basic legal rights of stewards.  NOTE: Related courses include Arbitration Preparation & Presentation Levels I and II; Arbitration Brief Writing & Closing Arguments. (2 semester credits)

LBST3901: Arbitration Preparation & Presentation - Level I (Just Cause) Any union advocate knows how vital it is to possess sharp skills during an arbitration hearing. Suitable for all levels, this demanding class will help develop the skills of the novice and hone the skills of the experienced advocate. Students will analyze a sample disciplinary case involving “Just Cause” and will practice direct and cross-examination, as well as opening statements in a workshop setting; students will also discuss closing arguments. At the end of the week, students will participate in full-scale mock arbitrations before certified arbitrators, and will receive additional constructive critiques from the arbitrators. Discussions include the relationship of arbitration to the grievance procedure, as well as strategies to avoid arbitration. MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS: There are no minimum requirements, but participants with less than three years of grievance handling experience must talk to the instructor prior to registering. RELATED CLASSES: Arbitration Preparation & Presentation - Level II and Arbitration Brief Writing & Closing Arguments Strategic Grievance Handling. (3 semester credits)

LBST3902: Arbitration Preparation & Presentation - Level II (Past Practice).  A continuation of Arbitration Level I, this course will challenge participants to analyze a sample case involving “Past Practice.” As in Level I, students will prepare the case in a workshop setting, and the week will culminate with a mock arbitration and additional feedback from a certified arbitrator. Discussions include the role of member organization, documentary evidence, information requests, and bargaining unit surveys in establishing and proving past practices. MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS: Level I or permission of the instructor. NOTE:  Only two students who have not completed the Level I course will be granted permission to take Level II. Students exempt from the Level I course must possess extensive hearing experience. RELATED CLASSES: Arbitration Preparation & Presentation - Level I and Arbitration Brief Writing & Closing Arguments; Strategic Grievance Handling. (3 semester credits)

LBST3932: Arbitration Brief Writing Level I. More and more union advocates find themselves having to write briefs, even when they would prefer to do closing arguments. This class provides an introduction for advocates who need basic practice in learning how to write arguments, and how to read, analyze and apply cases in an arbitration brief. The class will consist of discussion and analysis of a basic case problem, followed by a series of writing exercises based on that problem. By repeated practice combined with constructive instructor critique, advocates hone the fundamental skills needed to write a brief. MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS: Arbitration Level I, or hearing experience that includes case preparation, examination of witnesses, and opening statements. RELATED CLASSES: Arbitration Preparation & Presentation - Levels I and II; Arbitration Brief Writing Level II; Strategic Grievance Handling. (3 semester credits)

LBST3933: Arbitration Brief Writing Level II. From the opening paragraph of an arbitration brief to the concluding sentences, words and analysis matter. This class will take more advanced students through will-defined steps in analyzing an advanced arbitration case and writing a full-scale post-hearing brief. After a week of instruction and practice writing and rewriting, students will produce and deliver a final brief, which will be critiqued by the instructor. The class also covers reading and researching arbitration awards, and the requirements of closing arguments. MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS: Arbitration Brief Writing Level I, or hearing experience that includes case preparation, examination of witnesses and opening statements, should take Level I or Level II. RELATED CLASSES: Arbitration Preparation & Presentation – Levels I and II; Arbitration Brief Writing Level I: Strategic Grievance Handling. (3 semester credits)

LBUS3906: Contract Negotiations in the Private Sector. The unique challenges posed by private sector contract negotiations will be explored fully in this course. This course explores the role of the chief negotiator, from preparing initial proposals to ratifying a contract. Developing committee work and record-keeping procedures; the use of economic data in bargaining; the design of a bargaining campaign; and preparing for and directing the ratification process will also be covered. A highly effective part of the course is a tough bargaining exercise designed to help participants effectively weigh negotiating strategies and tactics.  (2 semester credits)

LBUS3907: Contract Negotiations in the Construction Industry. This course is tailor-made for union officers and staff members who negotiate labor agreements with construction management. As is the case for courses designed for the airline industry and the private sector, this course covers a wide spectrum of activities related to hammering out a winning contract - from drafting initial proposals to gaining support during the ratification process (and various steps in between). Attention will be given to the unique problems associated with employer association bargaining. A full review of legal developments as they apply to and affect bargaining in the construction industry will also be presented and discussed. The session will culminate with students participating in a mock bargaining session. (2 semester credits)

LBUS3909: Labor Law in the Construction Industry. For the construction industry, federal labor laws include special provisions. To manage risk effectively, union leaders and staff in the construction industry must be familiar with the legal framework. This course will enable participants to identify union action that can be taken independently; that require legal assistance; or that should be avoided entirely. Topics that will be covered include paths to recognition, including salting, trigger agreements and other innovations; bargaining, including pre-hire and project agreements, multi-employer units and corporate change; traditional and nontraditional pressures, from strikes to corporate campaigns; and preventive maintenance and pro-active planning. (2 semester credits)

LBUS3910: Labor Relations in the Federal Sector. Union leaders and staff who work with the federal sector face unique challenges and situations. This course, taught by labor professionals, will provide an overview of issues related to the representation of federal sector workers, including federal labor history, collective bargaining, contract enforcement, worker’s compensation, and building solidarity. (2 semester credits)

LBUS3912: Negotiating and Writing Contract Language. Participants in this course will learn how to develop effective bargaining strategy and how to write contract language. Participants will learn the “how-to’s” of writing contract language: defining and analyzing issues, developing proposals, and writing the actual language. In addition, particular kinds of contract language will be examined. Throughout the week, participants will work on a number of case studies.  NOTE: Prior to enrolling in this course, it is strongly recommended that participants have experience as a member of a union negotiating committee. (2 semester credits)

LBUS3913: Negotiating Contracts with State and Local Governments. Union officers and staff who negotiate labor agreements with the state, county, and local governments will benefit from this course, which explores the role of a chief negotiator at different parts of the bargaining process. Specifically, participants will scrutinize the preparation and design of initial proposals; the development of committee work and record-keeping procedures; the structure and function of opening statements; economic bargaining; and preparation and directions of the ratification process. A highly experienced union negotiator will walk participants through a tough municipal bargaining exercise aimed at encouraging the students to weigh negotiating strategies and tactics.  NOTE: Federal sector negotiations will not be addressed in this course. (2 semester credits)

LBUS3605: New Union Staff. This course is designed for those who have recently been appointed or elected to a full-time union staff position. The course will focus on developing personal skills and critical thinking needed to function effectively in the many different roles of a union staff member. The course will also help to improve planning skills needed to manage contract negotiations, organize campaigns, and run a local union. For a better overall understanding of the new staff member’s role, the basic structure, operation, and goals of the U.S. labor movement will be presented. Staff members from a number of different unions in attendance will enrich the discussions, presentations, exercises, class participation, and feedback. (2 semester credits)

LBUS3915: Organizing I. Through role-play and discussion, participants will refine their skills and expand their knowledge about organizing. This is an ideal course for staff new to organizing, as well as those who want to learn more about the latest strategies to grow their union.  Participants will examine a typical local union campaign in the private sector from start to finish. Students will learn about one-on-one communications, develop a workplace committee, and explore campaign strategies. Employer antiunion campaigns, legal strategies, and planning skills will also be emphasized. (2 semester credits)

LBUS3916: Organizing II. This course, focusing on the private sector, is designed for those who have completed Organizing I, who have comparable organizing experience, or who will assume (or have assumed) greater organizing responsibilities. Specific elements include recruiting and training of union members in the organizing process; leader development; corporate campaign research; legal strategies; database/reporting procedures; campaign issues and theme development; community involvement; campaign planning; and progress analysis. (2 semester credits)

LBUS3917: Organizing III.  The most advanced organizing course available at the NLC, this course is designed for those who have completed Organizing II, who possess extensive organizing experience, or those with management responsibility for a large campaign or organizing program. With an emphasis on strengthening strategic thinking, the course will also sharpen the skills needed to win organizing campaigns and first contracts. Using actual case studies from recent campaigns, participants will analyze and discuss the decisions that need to be made by organizers daily. Sessions on strategic research, staff development and management, communications strategy, and management of large campaigns will be featured. (2 semester credits)

LBUS3918: Organizing in the Construction Industry Level 1. This course offers a comprehensive overview of organizing issues related to the construction industry, and offers concrete strategies aimed at promoting organizing throughout the industry. In addition to concentrating on issues related to workforce organizing - identifying, contacting, and communicating directly with unrepresented workers - participants will also review the evolution of construction organizing, the use of topdown and bottom-up tactics, and basic labor law. Specifically, participants will learn how to identify leaders and build both employer-based and industrywide worker committees. One-on-one skills, overall communications strategies, framing issues, and motivating workers will also be addressed in this program. (2 semesters credits)

LBUS3920: Spanish Immersion. Organizing Spanish-speaking workers and providing services to Spanish-speaking members is vital in today’s multicultural workplaces. This course offers a unique and great opportunity to learn Spanish through immersion—75 hours of classroom instruction in Spanish. In fact, participants will begin speaking Spanish on the first day of class! Participants will learn from native speakers and will practice conversations that are related to organizing, union administration, health and safety, and more. No previous Spanish language experience is necessary, as students will be grouped according to ability. Daily lectures on cross-cultural communication will be given, and cultural events and activities will be scheduled in the evenings. NOTE: due to the specialized subject matter, a special fee applies. Please contact the Registrar’s Office for details. (6 semester credits)

LBUS3921: Strategic Bargaining and Organizing Campaigns. How does a union negotiate a contract with a company that has just hired a union-buster? How do you persuade a newly organized company to negotiate a first contract? What are the alternatives to an economic strike? These questions and more are answered in this course, which was specifically designed to build bargaining and organizing power. Emphasis will be on what the union can do to maximize its strength away from the bargaining table and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Specific points of discussion will include: expanding member participation in the bargaining process; enlisting public support; developing innovative campaign strategies; and devising tactics to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement even with powerful global corporations. (2 semester credits)

LBUS3923: Strategic Planning for Construction Organizing Level II. Intended to help union locals and building trades councils maximize the effectiveness of their organizing activities and to promote the efficient use of union resources, this course offers a step-by-step plan for developing and applying a comprehensive strategy. Specifically, participants will review basic concepts of planning, strategic targeting, conducting a power analysis, and strategic research for construction organizing. Participants will take part in a series of interactive, small-group exercises centered on a realistic case study. This course is designed for building trades union officers, agents, experienced organizers, or those who have attended Organizing in the Construction Industry Level I. (2 semester credits) 

LBUS3924: Strategic Research for Organizers and Bargainers. Good information leads to good strategy in organizing and bargaining campaigns. Obtaining good information by improving research capabilities and strategic skills is the focus of this course. Among the topics to be explored are: targeting criteria (asking the right questions); obtaining information from a variety of sources, including workers and the employer; analyzing a broad range of information, including examining trends and finding employer vulnerabilities; and using this information to develop strategic organizing and bargaining campaigns. Participants will learn how to use Internet databases, to master effective library techniques, and to conduct searches of courthouse records. (2 semester credits)

LBED3401: Teaching Techniques I. With an ever-present need for renewed activism and broader involvement among the rank-and-file, membership education is a top priority of today’s unions. This introductory course - ideal for union staff members who teach at conferences, workshops, or other educational settings - covers a broad range of education skills, from planning a time-sensitive teaching outline to conducting an effective class. Since most adults learn better when actively involved, this class will stress participation techniques. Practice teaching is a key component of the course, and during these sessions, guidance and feedback by a skilled labor educator will be offered. (2 semester credits)

LBED3411: Teaching Techniques II. A follow-up to the basic Teaching Techniques I course, this advanced course offers participants the opportunity to upgrade their teaching skills and allows them a forum to exchange ideas with other experienced labor educators. Participants will learn methods for designing effective teaching outlines. In addition, participants will expand the range of techniques they use and will learn how to write their own teaching materials. Leading a discussion - a complex, but critical component of teaching - will be emphasized. Practice teaching, with critique, is also an important part of this program. NOTE: permission of the instructor is required for admission to this course. (2 semester credits)

LBUS3927: “Train-the-Trainer” on Workplace Health and Safety. This six-day “train-the-trainer” program focuses on workplace health and safety. Participants - union activists, staff, and local health and safety representatives - will learn the fundamentals of workplace health and safety, with a focus on the following topics: identifying hazards in the workplace, legal rights of workers and unions, employer record-keeping requirements, introduction to ergonomics, and effective health and safety committees. NOTE: permission of the instructor is required. Participants must be sponsored by their union and must agree to facilitate safety and health training in their union. The sponsoring union must make a commitment to support the participants in conducting health and safety training for its members. (3 semester credits)

LBUS3928: Healthcare Bargaining. As everyone knows, healthcare bargaining critically impacts union members’ economic stability in all industries.  This course is intended for experienced bargainers who want to explore new strategies and for those new bargainers who are grappling with basic benefits bargaining. The course will explore alternative bargaining strategies, including analysis of healthcare plans and cost utilization. (2 semester credits)

LBUS3930: Representing Injured Workers. This course will provide union representatives with the practical knowledge and tools to represent workers with job-related injuries and illnesses. Participants will examine legal rights and responsibilities under various laws, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and state workers’ compensation laws. Contract language and collective bargaining around issues concerning the rights of injured workers will also be covered. Case problems and examples will be used to develop strategies for using these laws effectively. (2 semester credits)

LBUS3996: Multi-Trade Organizing Volunteer Education (MOVE). This course is designed to teach participants to deliver the Multi-Trade Organizing Volunteer Education (MOVE) program.  The MOVE program, developed by Cornell University and the National Labor College for the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department, emphasizes membership awareness and the importance of enlisting broad multi-trade support for organizing campaigns.  Participants will prepare a teaching outline and then practice their plan by teaching parts of the curriculum with others.  A skilled labor educator will oversee and offer guidance, advice, and constructive feedback. There will also be discussion of various parts of the MOVE program, as well as time devoted to various teaching techniques. (2 semester credits)

LBUS3997: Street Law for Negotiators. This three-day class covers bargaining law and is suitable for union reps from any industry covered by the NLRA. It provides guidance in both strategic and practical application of union legal rights and responsibilities throughout bargaining. Topics cover access to employer information, subjects of bargaining, good and bad faith bargaining, impasse and impasse avoidance, contract expiration, protected and unprotected concerted activities, picketing rights and restrictions, secondary activities, access to private property, strikes, and picketing. Participants will learn the strategic and practical application of bargaining law by working through a comprehensive case problem. (1 semester credit, with an optional 1-credit paper)

LBUS3898: Grievance Mediation. Grievance mediation provides an opportunity for the parties to resolve a grievance using interest-based skills with the assistance of a mediator. This three and a half day workshop aims at giving union members, officers, and staff an understanding of the principles of grievance mediation as well as hands on training in the skills needed to make the best use of a mediator. The skills taught - including listening, identifying issues, and exploring shared interests - can also be used to improve day to day grievance handling, employer union relations, and even problem solving within the union. RELATED CLASSES: Strategic Grievance Handling; Arbitration Preparation & Presentation: Level I - Arbitration Brief Writing & Closing Arguments. (3 semester credits)

LBUS3999: Spreadsheets for Contract Costing. This three-day class will teach union reps how to use off-the-shelf spreadsheet programs for contract costing purposes. Participants will create a template for their PC spreadsheet program based on standard contract costing formulas. These include a template for calculating average straight-time wage rates, costs of overtime and other premium payments, pay for time not worked such as holidays, vacations and other leaves, and fringe benefits such as health, life, and disability insurance. Methods for evaluating various wage proposals will also be covered. Basic familiarity with a PC and with a spreadsheet program is recommended. (2 semester credits)

LBUS3500: The Secretary Treasurer’s Total Solution This five (5) day course is designed to provide the Secretary-Treasurer with the tools for effective management of member and local funds and compliance with all regulatory requirements of the IRS and DOL. The workshop is a hands-on computer course designed to assist the student in developing proficiency with Quick Books as it relates to the union environment. The workshop also includes discussion of LM-2 requirements. (3 semester credits)

LBUA3904: Secretary-Treasurer’s—LM2 Requirements. If you are the Secretary-Treasurer of a local that has an income of $250,000 or more, the rules for collecting, analyzing and filing your union’s LM-2 Labor Department Annual Report are drastically more complex than ever before. Remember, the new rules aren’t just related to new information on the form itself; you must also file your new LMN-2 electronically. This four (4) day workshop is designed to provide you with the effective tools to accomplish this filing. The class is hands-on, in the computer lab, designed to assist you in developing proficiency with Quick Books as it relates to the new LM-2 “Informational Requirements.” The workshop material will provide you with an excellent understanding of all the new requirements and will help you to successfully complete the LM-2 Form for your local. (2 semester credits)

LBUS3091: Managing Local Unions. This course is aimed at strengthening the skills involved in local union management. Students will explore staff structure, day-to-day supervision, organization of work and program budgeting. The course will focus on tools such as job descriptions and workplans, as well as motivation, accountability, and communication strategies and techniques. (2 semester credits)

OSHA0500: Trainer Course in Occupational Safety & Health Standards for the Construction Industry. This course is designed for trainers interested in teaching the OSHA 10- and 30-hour construction safety and health hazard awareness outreach program. Special emphasis is placed on those topics that are required in the 10- and 30-hour programs as well as on those that are the most hazardous, using OSHA standards as a guide. Course participants are briefed on effective instructional approaches and the effective use of visual aids and handouts. Upon completion, students will be authorized to teach the 10- and 30-hour construction courses and can obtain completion cards for their students from OSHA.  Students must have completed OSHA course #510, or have equivalent training, and five years of construction experience to take this course. (2.5 CEU’s; 3 semester credits)

OSHA0501: Trainer Course in Occupational Safety & Health Standards for General Industry. This is a trainer course for personnel from all types of industry. It is designed to present detailed information on how the provisions of the OSH Act may be implemented in the workplace. Rights and responsibilities under the OSH Act, the appeals process, and record keeping are covered. The course also includes an introduction to OSHA’s general industry standards and an overview of the requirements of the more frequently referenced standards. Upon completion of this course, students will be authorized to teach the 10- and 30-hour outreach “voluntary compliance” programs and issue cards to their students from OSHA.  Students must have completed OSHA course #511, or have equivalent training, and five years of work experience to take this course. (2.5 CEU’s; 3 semester credits)