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ILR School

Contemporary Labor Issues: Worker Cooperatives (LS263)

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The course will help students identify some of the important challenges confronting the American labor movement since the 1980's. Emphasis will be placed on exploring how relationships between the private and public sectors of American society have changed and how these changes create challenges for the American labor movement. Special emphasis will be given to the overall problem of declining market share or labor density of unions and difficulties facing nonunion competition. A major shift in unions supporting and advocating for nonunion Worker Centers and worker advocate organizations will be explored. Movements such as the Fight for $15 and Occupy Wall Street were not organized by unions but are supported by labor.

There are no prerequisites required for this course and no specific textbook required.

Key Topics

  • Public Sector and Private Sector Relationships since 1980
  • Market Share and Labor Density and the impact on union competitiveness
  • Worker Centers and Nonunion Worker Cooperatives
  • Union member complacency

Approach and Features

Students will drive much of the discussion and topics explored in addition to the key topics above. Each student will be required to write a research paper on a contemporary labor issue of their choosing. Students will act as weekly leaders on a self-selected topic to explore contemporary issues facing labor today. All assignments are weekly and the course is available 24/7 for the 11 weeks.

Students are encouraged to use actual issues facing their union and work on a project to identify ways you can improve your local. Instructor will provide case studies, library resources and tips on best practices from other unions. Working with unions across the country online helps find multiple ways unions have addressed the problems.

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