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LER 100 Introduction to Labor Studies

Fall 2015. Three Credits.


Online course. August 24 to October 16
INSTRUCTOR CONTACT INFORMATION
Name:
Steven Ashby, Full Clinical Professor and LER undergraduate program
coordinator, School of Labor and Employment Relations
Email:
skashby@illinois.edu. Please email me through Compass email.
Office Hours:
As my office is in Chicago, please contact me through Compass email if
youd like to arrange a phone appointment.
Office Address: LER, 815 West 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
an overview of U.S. labor and working class history, an analysis of the state of U.S. employment
laws, a discussion of racial and sexual harassment in the workplace, and analysis of the
contemporary struggles workers and unions face in a rapidly changing global economy. Finally,
the class examines a contemporary labor struggle to explore changing labor-management
relations, the U.S. governments role, and internal struggles within the labor movement.
Upon completing this course you will:
Gain a familiarity with the field of Labor Studies;
Know and be able to comfortably use key labor terms;
Understand key issues facing working people today;
Understand why and how workers organize and join unions;
Understand basic U.S. labor and employment laws impacting unions and workers;
Understand how individual and national unions are structured;
Understand how collective bargaining works;
Gain an overview of U.S. labor and working class history; and
Be able to analyze the problems and options facing unions in labor conflicts.
The course is divided into segments. Each segments lecture highlights important material from
the assigned reading, adds new information, and introduces the discussion forums.
Segment Days Opens

1
2

10
11

August 24
September 3

3
4
5

10
10
12

September 15
September 25
October 5

Closes

Topic

September 2
Workers and Unions
September 14
U.S. Labor and Working Class History
September 7 is the Labor Day holiday
September 24
Workers Issues
October 4
Race and Gender in the Workplace
October 16
Analyzing a Labor Conflict: A.E. Staley

REQUIRED READING AND VIDEOS


There are two required texts which can be purchased at the Illini Union bookstore or on the web:

The Unfinished Struggle by Steve Babson (Rowman & Littlefield: 1999)


Staley: The Fight for a New American Labor Movement by C.J. Hawking and Steven Ashby
(University of Illinois Press: 2009)

In addition to the texts, there are web-based articles, electronic reserve reading, and web-based videos
located in the Compass Reading and Videos folders in each segment.
ASSIGNMENTS
There are 375 possible points in this course. Four exams are worth 100 points (25 points each),
the Class Process Test is worth 5 points, the Family History paper is worth 15 points, the Final
Exam is worth 80 points, and participation in the 10 Discussion Forums is worth 150 points (15
points per forum).
Segment Assignment

All
1
1
2
2
3
4
5
5
5

Date Opens

Discussion Forums
Class Process Test
Exam 1
Family History Paper
Exam 2
Practice Test
Exam 3
Extra Credit Paper
Exam 4
Final Exam

A+ 98% 343-350
A
93% 325-342
A- 90% 315-324

Date Closes

First day of segment Last day of segment


August 24
September 2
August 24
September 2
September 14
September 3
September 14
September 15
September 24
September 25
October 4
October 16
October 5
October 16
October 20
TOTAL

B+ 88% 308-314
B 83% 290-307
B- 80% 280-289

C+ 78% 273-279
C 73% 255-272
C- 70% 245-254

Points

150
5
25
15
25
0
25
(15)
25
__80
350

D+ 68% 238-244
D 63% 220-237
D- 60% 210-219
F
000-209

For details on exams, papers, extra credit papers, and forum grading please read the Class
Process file.

COURSE SCHEDULE AND READING


SEGMENT 1
WORKERS AND UNIONS
Monday, August 24 to Wednesday, September 2 (10 days)
Reading: About the Course
Welcome to LER folder
Class Process
Forum Posts
Reading: Workers
The Challenge of Working Class Studies by Michael Zweig, pages 4-10 in Whats
Class Got To Do With It? [Electronic reserve]
Class Unconsciousness: Stop Using Middle Class to Depict the Labor Movement, by
Nelson Lichtenstein, Spring 2012 New Labor Forum
The Last Labor Day?, by E.J. Dionne, September 4, 2011 Washington Post
ABC News poll on the middle class, March 15, 2010
Millionaire tax sought by Obama is panned by GOP as class warfare, September 18,
2011 Los Angeles Times
Obama Uses State of the Union Speech to Rebuff GOP Attacks, January 25, 2012 U.S.
News and World Report
Working Labor Back into News, January 10, 2011 Center for Working Class Studies
Working Class Perspectives blog
Reading: Unions
Text: Glossary in Staley
The Union Members Complete Guide by Michael Mauer [Electronic reserve]
- Chapter 1 What are Unions?
- Chapter 2 How Your Union Operates
Why Unions Matter by Michael Yates
- Chapter 1 Why Unions
- Chapter 2 How Unions Form
2014 Union Membership Data, Bureau of Labor Statistics
Pollingreport.com polls on labor and work
Americans Support for Labor Unions Continues to Recover, August 17, 2015 Gallup
Poll
In Immigrant Struggle, Occupys Presence Still Felt, September 14, 2012 Jacobin
magazine (accompanying article to The Hand that Feeds video)
Videos:
Bill Moyers: The first part of L.A. Labor on the topic Is Barack Obama fostering class
warfare?
Excerpt from Class Dismissed: How Television Frames the Working Class
The Hand that Feeds (union organizing) (3 minutes)
Employee Free Choice Act (union organizing) (8 minutes)
Assignments:
Take the Class Process Test by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, September 2
Take Exam 1, covering material in Segment 1, by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, September 2
Discussion Forums:
Introductions
1A: Popular Images of Workers
3

1B: Popular Images of Unions

SEGMENT 2
U.S. LABOR AND WORKING CLASS HISTORY
Thursday, September 3 to Monday, September 14 (11 days)
September 7 is the Labor Day Holiday
Reading:
Text: Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 4 in The Unfinished Struggle
Lessons of U.S. Labor History
Solidarity Forever lyrics
Links to numerous U.S. labor history websites
Videos:
Haymarket, 1886 (PBS, 5 minutes)
Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, 1911 (2 minutes)
San Francisco General Strike, 1934 (PBS, 3 minutes)
Optional: The 1912 Bread and Roses Lawrence, Massachusetts textile strike (6
minutes)
Optional: Flint auto sit-down strikes (excerpt from PBS film Walter Reuther and the
Rise of the United Auto Workers, 15 minutes)
Optional: 1937 Memorial Day Massacre, Republic Steel strike (Illinois Labor History
Society, 10 minutes)
Assignments:
Take Exam 2, covering material in Segment 2, by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, September 14
The Family History paper is due in Assignments by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, September 14
Discussion Forums:
2A: Labor Leaders in American History
2B: Lessons of Labor and Working Class History
SEGMENT 3
WORKERS ISSUES
Tuesday, September 15 to Thursday, September 24 (10 days)
Reading:
Text: Preface, Prologue, and Chapters 1, 2, and 3 in Staley
You Have The Right To Remain Silent: Freedom of Speech in the Workplace, chapter 1
in Can They Do That? Retaking Our Fundamental Rights in the Workplace by Lewis
Maltby [Electronic reserve]
AFL-CIO website on workers issues (read the sections under Get Informed)
Building the Middle Class website on retirement, health care, sick leave, family leave,
minimum wage, earned income tax credit, etc.)
The American Middle Class Under Stress, a 2011 New America Foundation report (20
pages of charts and graphs)
Poverty Tour
Working Group on Extreme Inequality website
Soaring Poverty Casts Spotlight on Lost Decade, September 13, 2011 New York Times
The World's Most Worker-Friendly Countries, in 7 Charts, January 7, 2015 Citylab
Inequality, Unbelievably, Gets Worse, by Steven Rattner (opinion piece with many
charts), November 16, 2014 New York Times
Optional: Text: Chapter 5 in The Unfinished Struggle
4

Video:
Bill Moyers Show: L.A. Labor (PBS, 14 minutes)
Assignments:
Early in the segment take the Practice Test on employment and labor laws. Then return
to the exam, read the correct answers and comments, do the assigned reading, and post to
Forum 3A.
Discussion Forums:
3A: Employment Law and Workers Rights
3B: Contemporary Workers Issues
SEGMENT 4
RACE AND GENDER IN THE WORKPLACE
Friday, September 25 to Sunday, October 4 (10 days)
Reading:
Text: Chapter 11 The African American Workers and pages 286-288 in Staley
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on racial harassment
AFL-CIO website on fighting for civil rights (explore this website)
EEOC on sexual harassment
AFL-CIO website on the fight for working womens rights (explore this website)
The United Electrical workers union on fighting racial harassment on the job
The AFSCME union on fighting sexual harassment on the job
Racial harassment still infecting the workplace, January 13, 2008 MSNBC
One in Four U.S. Women Reports Workplace Harassment, November 16, 2011 ABC
News
It's now much easier to be harassed at work, July 1, 2013 Chicago Tribune
Who still can't sit at America's table, by Prof. Stephanie Coontz, February 11, 2014
CNN
When Living on Tips Means Putting Up With Harassment, October 17, 2014 New York
Times
A Grope and a Shrug: Dov Charney, American Apparel and Sexual Harassment,
opinion piece, June 30, 2014 New York Times
Students File Complaints on Sexual Assaults at Columbia University, April 24, 2014
New York Times
Survivors Share Experiences of Sexual Assault in the Military, March 13, 2013 PBS
report
Videos:
Is Your Daughter Safe at Work? (PBS, 26 minutes); and read some of the
accompanying articles on the website
Shopping While Black (ABC News, 7 minutes); and read the accompanying article
Assignment:
Take Exam 3, covering material in Segments 3 and 4, by 11:59 pm on Sunday, October 4
Discussion Forums:
4A: Race in the Workplace
4B: Gender in the Workplace

SEGMENT 5
ANALYZING A LABOR CONFLICT: A.E. STALEY
Monday, October 5 to Friday, October 16 (12 days)
Reading:
Text: Chapters 4-10 and 12-20 in Staley
More Lockouts as Companies Battle Unions, by Steven Greenhouse, January 22, 2012
New York Times
Videos:
Deadly Corn (25 minutes)
Struggle in the Heartland (25 minutes)
The Gathering Storm (optional, 25 minutes)
Dan Lane at the AFL-CIO Convention (optional, 25 minutes)
Assignments:
The Extra Credit paper on teachers is due by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, October 16
Take Exam 4, covering material in Segment 5, by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, October 16
The Final Exam, covering all course material, is open from 6:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on
Tuesday, October 20.
Discussion Forums:
5A: Picket Lines in Strikes and Lock-outs
5B: Lessons of the Staley Labor Conflict