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Center for Labor Research and Education


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UC Berkeley Labor Studies Courses Spring 2018

UC Berkeley Labor Studies Courses Spring 2018

Undergraduate Course: Labor and Workplace Justice in the Contemporary U.S.

Public Policy 190: Special topics
Course number: 17933
Schedule: Monday and Wednesday – 3 PM – 4:29 PM

This course provides a broad, interdisciplinary overview of the role of the U.S. labor movement in the fight for social and economic justice. It will introduce students to critiques of capitalism and the power dynamics inherent in paid work, while considering why and how workers form unions in response. The course will cover current challenges facing the US workforce, including corporate restructuring in an era of globalization, as well as the growing legal, political and economic obstacles confronting the labor movement. Students will assess the legacy of organized labor as a force for social change, particularly as it intersects with questions of gender and racial equality, access to healthcare and retirement security, and immigrant rights. The class will also examine strategies for building worker power and revitalizing the U.S. labor movement through innovative approaches to organizing, social movement unionism, and cross-border alliances. The course will integrate guest speakers, news articles, blogs, videos, group projects, and community engagement.

Graduate Seminar: Contemporary Labor Issues: Challenges and Innovation

Public Policy 290
Course number: 15670
Schedule: Tuesday, 2 PM – 4:59 PM

The labor movement in California and the nation overall faces significant challenges, made more urgent since the 2016 federal elections. This course will focus on: (a) the current employment conditions of low-wage workers and the causes of growing wage inequality (e.g., wage theft, subcontracting, contingent work, racial and gender labor stratification, and declining unionization); (b) the new attacks on organized labor such as right to work legislation and court decisions; and (c) how organized labor is responding with innovative organizing strategies, policy advocacy, and political action. Students will analyze policy campaigns that have led to significant gains for American workers in the form of state and local mandates on wages, paid family leave, and healthcare. Students will also explore proposals to address the gig economy and the future of work, such as universal basic income, portable benefits, and full employment strategies. Students will consider new organizing strategies and community-labor alliances, such as worker centers, community benefits agreements, green jobs organizing, and other regional and industry strategies. The class will draw upon cutting-edge research, and engage with organizers and practitioners to deepen students’ understanding of the labor movement’s role in promoting the right of all workers to a decent quality of life in 21st century US capitalism.

If you have any questions about classes or other Labor Center student opportunities, please contact: Alicia Flores, Program Coordinator,, 510-643-0910