Course Descriptions

LER-100 Introduction to Labor Studies | Provides an overview of workers and unions in American society. Looks at economic, political, and workplace issues facing working people, why and how workers join unions, how unions are structured and function, and how unions and management bargain a contract. Provides a historical overview of the American labor movement, and discusses the contemporary struggles workers and unions face in a rapidly changing global economy. Fulfills Social Science Gen Ed!

LER-110 Labor and Social Movements | Explores the role of labor unions in American society. Discusses the role of labor unions in initiating actions on social issues that impact the U.S. working class, the economy, public policy, and politics. Analyzes the labor movement’s interaction with the civil rights, women’s, student, global justice, and living wage movements.

LER-120 Contemporary Labor Problems | Focuses on problems and challenges facing American workers and the U.S. labor movement. Topics include the deterioration of the labor-management “social contract” in recent decades; a review of labor and employment law; the health care crisis; globalization and cross-border union alliances; and union democracy.

LER-130 Intro to Labor – Working Class History | Do working people have a history worth studying? What does the history of the U.S. look like when viewed from the point of view of those who built the country? Introduces U.S. labor and working class history. Examines the conditions of life and work of the various groups of working people: enslaved, indentured, small farmers, but especially wage workers and their families from the civil War to the present. Studies the main collective actions workers have taken to protect and improve their lives and the organizations and social movements they created to do this.

LER-200 Globalization and Workers | Is globalization good for working people in the United States and around the world? Globalization is the driving force in the world economy but it is also provoking tremendous debate and popular resistance. Students will learn the basics about globalization and its institutions from the perspective of workers’ right in the U.S. and the Third World. Analyzes the debate over free trade and sweatshops, trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, and institutions such as the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund. Closely examines working conditions in several Third World countries, and explores the role of the global justice movement.

LER-225 Labor Issues in Sports (Fall) | Introduces students to critical historical and contemporary labor issues in the sports industry. Despite popular notions of athletics as “only a game,” the world of sports is an expansive global industry with a complex architecture of labor relations systems. Thanks to spectator sports’ status as a pervasive form of mass entertainment, the industry also serves as an influential source of cultural meaning in the wider world of work. Day after day, the sports world is home to mass-mediated conversations about key labor issues ranging from unionization to workplace safety to sexual harassment.

LER-300 Workers, Unions, and Politics | What is the meaning and impact of politics seen from the perspective of those at the bottom of the pyramid of political power rather than from the usual focus on the actions and perceptions of political elites? In what ways do workers become involved in politics? Under what circumstances are they likely to be successful in bringing about change? This course addresses these questions by exploring political power, political participation, and political change from a broad historical and cross-cultural perspective, but always focusing on a view of politics from the bottom up. The course analyzes the political economy of labor, and the labor movement’s political influence in politics.

LER-320 Gender, Race, Class and Work (Fall) | Provides a historical and contemporary overview of the impact and interplay of gender, race, class and other issues of identity in the workplace. Topics include: pay gap, occupational segregation, workplace harassment, low wage work, and employment discrimination laws. The response of labor unions to identity issues will also be examined. Prerequisite: LER 100, LER 110 or one course that covers race or gender issues is required.