Labor Workshops

Grievance Handling | Labor Studies | Solidarity |
Leadership | Special Topics | Collective Bargaining

The Institute offers open enrollment courses for union members and contract courses for specific local unions, state associations, or central labor councils. Most courses last one to two days and are taught on weekends, but the Institute will contract to meet any scheduling needs. The cost of contract courses is normally less expensive than sending members to one of the open enrollment programs. The basic training cost is $200 per day plus a per participant charge for instructional material. There may be additional costs for meeting space, meals, or instructors who are not Institute staff.
For more information, or to register call 595-2344 or e-mail John Kretzschmar.

Spring 2008 Schedule

April 26, 2008

Increasing Your Local Union's Political Effectiveness

Politics is one of four primary tools unions have for improving the lives of working families in the U.S. Decisions made by elected officials from President to school board member directly impact jobs, safety, health care, and much more. It is an election year and this workshop will help unions maximize their political clout.

Who should attend: Union leaders, policy makers and activists

Topics include: Explaining why politics is important; evaluating your union's past efforts; analyzing your membership; communication techniques that work; effective lobbying techniques.

Date/Time: Saturday, April 26, 2008 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Cost: $65 includes a reference manual and a certificate of completion

Location: Peter Kiewit Conference Center, 1313 Farnam St., Room 233J, Omaha, NE


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Grievance Handling

Grievance Handling
For newly-elected stewards or experienced officers wanting a refresher, this course teaches the skills needed to represent workers with grievances. Topics include: what is and is not a grievance; proper grievance investigation techniques; arbitrators' standard for determining just cause for discipline; and oral and written grievance presentation skills.
8 contact hours
"Excellent-a great learning tool. It should help our local in the future." Steve Curren, IBEW 1483

Steward Training
A continuation of the topics addressed in Grievance Handling, this course provides more detailed information plus an overview of labor history, labor economics, and leadership skills.
16 contact hours
"This class is great for all stewards and a must for beginning stewards." Frank Godinez, UFCW 271

The Legal Framework of the Grievance Procedure Under the National Labor Relations Act
This course provides the knowledge and skills you will need to take the grievance procedure to a higher level. Topics include: the legal framework of labor arbitration; management rights and the continuing duty to bargain; how the NLRB applies the unfair labor practice to grievances; and the importance of finding the proper forum for the grievance. 4 contact hours

Preparing a Grievance to Go to Arbitration
Many grievances are won or lost in the early stages of the grievance procedure. The steward must understand how the arbitration process works and what is needed to succeed if a grievance goes all the way to a hearing. Proper preparation will result in a higher winning percentage and make presenting the grievance in the arbitration hearing much easier. This course is designed for those who have completed Grievance Handling and/or Steward Training. Topics include: evidence and proof in arbitration; the rules of evidence; gathering and organizing evidence; case analysis and settlement consideration; anatomy of the arbitration hearing; the seven tests of just cause; and how to judge whether the arbitrator’s decision runs counter to the purposes of the National Labor Relations Act. 16 contact hours

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Labor Studies

Labor History
This history course probes the working and living conditions which gave rise to unions and the opposition to unions which workers faced. 8 contact hours
"A great program. This course should be a prerequisite to being a union leader." Mary Hakanson, URW 815

Labor and the American Community
This course examines the relationship between organized labor and the American community from the viewpoint of working people. Topics include: labor unions and public opinion; a snapshot of where the labor movement is today; democracy, union government, and members' interests. 8-16 contact hours

Common Sense Economics

Learn how the economy works and how political decisions influence what happens at the bargaining table and in the community. Topics include: economic education for workers; standards of economic justice; and how politics touch everything we do. 8 contact hours

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Learn the skills needed to encourage communication within a union. Topics include: analyzing the union's organizational structure; psychology of motivation; improving listening skills; and making one-on-one presentations. 16 contact hours

Solidarity Building and Internal Organizing
Learn the causes for member apathy and how union leadership can increase membership involvement. Topics include: psychology of motivation; union and management contributions to member apathy; basic strategic planning techniques; and building an action plan for improving solidarity. 16 contact hours

Parliamentary Procedure
This course will familiarize all union members with a set of rules that can promote cooperation within the union and increase its effectiveness. Participants will learn how rules should be applied and interpreted to permit the majority to accomplish its ultimate purpose within a reasonable length of time, while allowing the minority the opportunity to express its views. 10 contact hours

Making Committees Work
This course will teach the skills elected and appointed committee chairs and members need in order to make their meetings more productive. Topics include: psychology of motivation; communicating union values; how to chair; how to lead a discussion; participative decision-making techniques; strategic planning; and problem solving for unions. 16 contact hours
"I feel this class was very good, and any officer of a union could use this information." Roger Miller, IBT 554

Increasing Political Effectiveness
For elected and appointed union officials and interested members this course will teach strategies for educating and involving members in political activities. Topics include: assessing past union political efforts; the psychology of motivation; labor economics; analyzing union demographics; finding issues that motivate members; and the importance of lobbying. 8 contact hours
"Very helpful with information concerning the how and what to do to advance the interests of my union."  Patrick Hendricks, UTU 393

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Leadership Training
Increase the effectiveness of union leadership by learning basic management skills. Topics include: analyzing leadership styles; goal setting; problem solving; time management; and group decision-making techniques. 16 contact hours
"I learned techniques and processes that will be useful in furthering the goals of our union." Mike Meyer, UFCW 22

Strategic Planning for Executive Boards
An intensive workshop for local union, central labor council, or state association leaders to help them realistically assess where they are now and plan what they can expect to accomplish during their term of office. 16 contact hours

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Special Topics

Protecting Our Health and Safety at Work
Good jobs, a living wage and good benefits are not enough if our jobs threaten our health and our lives. So how do we work towards making sure this is not the case? In this one-day workshop, we will explore how to achieve safe and healthy workplaces. We'll look at worker and union rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, how to identify and correct hazards at the workplace, the new OSHA ergonomics standard, how to have effective safety and health committees, and how to involve members in our efforts.

Using Cooperation to Increase Union Power
National studies of union and non-union workers indicate not surprisingly that an overwhelming majority of workers want a greater voice in how their workplace is run. Unions need to be aware of all the tools available to them to help members gain this increased voice. This one-day workshop will help union leaders examine the pros and cons of working with management in a cooperative manner to promote traditional union goals.

How Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Works
The Nebraska Workers’ Compensation statute was designed to ensure that employees who are injured or disabled as a result of their employment are provided with compensation. In this overview of the statute union members and their officers will learn how Nebraska’s compensation law works. You will learn what your rights are; how to file and pursue a claim; how to evaluate a work injury claim; when and why to use an attorney; how to prepare for a hearing.

The Use and Abuse of Worker Participation Programs
For union leaders and members who are contemplating involvement in labor-management worker participation programs, this course explores the potential dangers and possible benefits. Topics include: the history of labor-management cooperation programs; current labor law and joint labor-management programs; assessing management's motivation for instituting the program; assessing the potential risks and benefits to the union stemming from participation; and setting ground rules for union involvement. 16 contact hours
"The class should be mandatory for any unions that are considering going into an employee involvement program." Steve Abbott, CWA Local 7401

The Family and Medical Leave Act
This course will give union members a working knowledge of the FMLA and how it applies in union settings. Topics include: who does the Act cover; your rights under the Act; legitimate reasons for requesting leave; notice and certification requirements; return to work rights; and using collective bargaining to expand your rights under the Act. 8 contact hours

Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace
Learn how union members are affected by drug and alcohol testing. Topics include: worker's rights under the law; accuracy and dependability of different types of drug and alcohol tests; the role of employee assistance programs; and negotiating contract language. 8 contact hours

HIV/AIDS: A Union Issue
This course is designed to help union leaders understand an issue that affects many union members and their families. Topics include: what HIV is and how it is spread; how to educate the workforce about HIV/AIDS; how to help HIV positive members; how to prevent workplace exposure; and how to fight HIV/AIDS discrimination at work. 16 contact hours

Safety and Health
Nebraska employers, who pay into the state workers’ compensation fund, are by law mandated to establish joint safety committees to meet periodically to examine safety issues in the workplace.   Unions must understand their role in these committees.  Safety is a mandatory item of bargaining.  When union representatives meet with management to discuss safety issues, they are actually engaging in a form of continuous bargaining. 
This class will examine how the union can (1) use safety and health issues to reduce member apathy; (2) identify safety programs that “blame the worker” rather than identify and reduce the workplace hazards; and (3) properly prepare to negotiate with management over how to redesign the workplace to fit the health and safety needs of the employees.

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Collective Bargaining

Collective Bargaining
This course will increase the effectiveness of union committees in collective bargaining. Topics include the legal framework for collective bargaining; determining what bargaining proposals the union will bring to negotiations; calculating realistic proposal settlement ranges; how to write contract language; and basic negotiation strategy and tactics. 16 contact hours
"This will definitely help our bargaining team be better prepared than we ever have been." John Bourne, IBEW 22

Zipper Clauses, Management Rights, and the Continuing Duty to Bargain
Many unions arbitrate grievances because the zipper clause in their contract appears to give management the power to act unilaterally on everything not specifically spelled out in the contract. Those same unions are losing grievances involving management rights disputes at arbitration because arbitrators continue to misapply the residual rights theory in their decision making. These arbitrators are continuing a practice declared dead in National labor Relations Board (NLRB) decisions for more than 25 years! NLRB decisions involving the interpretation of zipper clauses are more recent but equally as important to unions.

Management Rights and the Continuing Duty to Bargain Under the National Labor Relations Act
For union advocates at all levels, this seminar will highlight how to use the offices of the NLRB to win management rights disputes. Arbitrations are presently being lost because arbitrators are still using the residual rights theory in their decision making. 6 contact hours

Private Sector Labor Law
For union members who work for an employer in the private sector and are governed by the National Labor Relations Act, this course provides a working knowledge of the important laws relating to collective bargaining and internal union affairs. 8 contact hours

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© University of Nebraska at Omaha, 2007. All rights reserved. Rev 07/07