Labor Education Programs at LER
The Labor Education Program (LEP) at the School of Labor and Employment Relations was formally established in early 1947 in response to the educational demands of workers belonging to newly-formed unions. Working within the School, LEP operates as the only state wide labor education program, serving over 2,000 union members annually. Over time, the program’s mission of worker outreach, education, and participatory-action research has expanded to serve low-wage and other marginalized workers in addition to union members.
Labor education programs operate out of two primary offices, the Urbana-Champaign office located in the LER building, and the Chicago office. Faculty and staff at each office provide educational programs for union members and other workers. Most classes are held in the evening or on weekends in various locations around the state of Illinois. There are also week-long residential summer programs held on the University's Urbana campus. This year's schedule of programs and special events continues the tradition of high quality education that trade union members and working people from around the state have come to expect from our faculty.
The Labor Education Program recognizes the role that education can play in strengthening the labor movement’s ability to renew America’s promise of real economic opportunity for every worker. Educational programming is brought to union halls, workplaces, community organizations, worker centers, and schools, as well as through online courses. Community-based research is conducted to support worker struggles and contribute to popular understanding of the issues facing workers and the region’s vibrant labor history. LEP has made a strategic move to upgrade the capacity to conduct labor education programming outside of the Chicago-Metro area to meet the diverse needs of the one million members of the Illinois labor movement. Along with continuing programs such as the women leadership conferences, union summer schools, certificate programs, Hazardous Materials health and safety trainings, and our partnership with the National Labor College, we are enthusiastic about the new programs we are developing. If you have suggestions about how LEP can be used as a resource to your union/organization, please call 217-333-0980 or 312-996-2623.