Syllabus - LER 100 Introduction to Labor Studies Fall 2011...

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LER 100 “Introduction to Labor Studies” Fall 2011. Three Credits. 2 nd eight weeks course. Online course. October 17 to December 7 INSTRUCTOR CONTACT INFORMATION Name: Steven K. Ashby, Full Clinical Professor, School of Labor and Employment Relations Email: Please email me on Compass email Office phone: (312) 996-8733 Office hours: My office is at the LER Labor Education Program office in Chicago. Please send me a Compass email to arrange a phone appointment. Office address: 815 W. Van Buren #110, Chicago IL 60607 ABOUT THE COURSE The course provides an overview of workers and unions in American society and introduces you to topics covered in the field of Labor Studies. The course 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. The class includes a historical overview of the American labor movement, and discusses the contemporary struggles workers and unions face in a rapidly changing global economy. Finally, the class examines a contemporary labor struggle as a vehicle to explore changing labor-management relations, the U.S. government’s role, and internal struggles within the labor movement itself. Upon completing this course you will: Be able to use key labor terms; Understand a number of issues facing working people, including poverty, low wages, income inequality, declining medical benefits and pensions, plant closings and unemployment, and racial and sexual harassment on the job; Understand why workers organize and join unions; Understand basic U.S. employment and labor laws impacting workers; Understand how individual unions, and the U.S. labor movement as a whole, are structured; Have an overview of U.S. labor and working class history; Be able to analyze the problems and options facing one local union in a labor conflict Be able to analyze the problems and options facing the entire labor movement; and Become a keen observer of the interplay between U.S. labor unions, corporations, the U.S. government, the media, and the American people. 1
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There are no prerequisites for taking LER 100, and each of you enters the course with a different background. Some of you may have never taken a course about workers’ rights or unions, while others have taken multiple courses. Some of you come from a working class upbringing, while others come from middle class households. Some of you come from cities with diverse economies, while others come from cities which historically have been heavily dependent on manufacturing. Some of you have relatives who have been union members or have been in a union yourself, while others have had little or no contact with unions. Some of you are international students with home countries with very different labor relations than in the U.S.
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