This course will familiarize students with current public policy debates in the labor movement, with historical context about how these conversations evolved. Students will also learn about strategies and tactics to elevate worker voices at the federal, state, and local level as well as parsing out how to effectively work with executive, legislative, and judicial branches of those governments. Most importantly, this course will interrogate theories of power building to advance the discourse and strategies workers and their advocates can use moving forward to build upon the status quo.

Workers are more complex than the stereotypical strongman holding a pickaxe in many labor history books. They’re whole people, with identities and concerns that go far beyond wages. And failing to center workers’ full identities, leads to an underestimation of the motivations that lead many to risk their livelihoods to organize while creating space for anti-union employers to divide the workforce. Today’s workers are proving that multinational corporations can be held to account when the labor movement as a whole—union and not-yet-union—invest in relational people-to-people activities that organize workers’ power based on their relationship to new and changing dynamics of employment in the global economy. Having the appropriate calculation of power clarifies whether workers will be successful within the current framework for collective bargaining, or if a new approach is more strategic. And when they model campaigns that operate at the intersections of workers’ identities—particularly race and gender—they have a greater success rate, raising the floor for all workers and expanding democratic practices in employment. This course will examine a set of worker campaigns where workers effectively focused at one or more intersections of their identity to improve standards.

This is a course in applied economics. The readings, lectures, and discussions in the course will aim at introducing concepts from the social sciences that can be directly applied to an understanding of key problems confronting workers and workers' movements today, and developing possible solutions to these problems. No prior study of economics is assumed, and the economic theory component is meant to develop insights on real labor issues, historical and present - not just engage in abstract modeling or mathematics. Major topics covered in the course include: the distribution of income and wealth and the causes of rising inequality in recent decades; managerial control of the workplace and labor process; unemployment and its effects on both unemployed and employed workers; the rise and decline of unions; government regulation of capitalist enterprise; the social welfare state; labor-market discrimination and segmentation; capital mobility and globalization.
Practicum for LABOR 742 Labor & Employment Law
This course is a research and writing seminar for graduate students in the Labor Studies MS degree program. Students complete an original research project in a series of stages, including articulating methodologies, literature review, outlining, writing, feedback, and intensive peer review. The final product is a polished work ready for publication and conference presentations.
Labor movements and systems in various countries. Combines individual country-studies with a cross-national topical approach.