School of Continuing and Professional Studies > About > Labor Education Center

Labor Education Center

Founded in 1948 by a group of forward thinking labor leaders and progressive academics, DePaul University's Labor Education Center serves as a resource center to students, labor activists, academics and community leaders seeking a deeper understanding of labor issues and economic justice. To help build the next generation of labor movement leaders, the Center develops the skills of emerging leaders and assists some of the most seasoned labor professionals to identify opportunities and craft strategic approaches to overcoming adversity. pecifically, the Center builds the capacity of unions and worker organizations through high school and adult labor education, tailored trainings, research, and public events that promote transformative conversations about the labor movement. 

Please consider supporting our work by making a tax-deductible donation.


What we offer

Three Year Labor Leadership Certificate Program
Our Labor Leadership Certificate Program trains students to be labor leaders through progressive coursework over three years. Weekly seminars are held in the fall and spring. Credit from these courses may also be applied toward a BA or MA degree in SCPS.

  • 1st Year: writing skills, grievance process, public speaking, labor law, parliamentary procedure.
  • 2nd Year: collective bargaining and arbitration.
  • 3rd Year: organizing, campaign planning , economics, labor history, health and safety, labor in politics.

Email for more information.

Regina V. Polk High School Program

The Labor Education Center’s Regina V. Polk High School Program provides labor education curriculum to more than a thousand Illinois high school students annually. This program includes

  • Collective Bargaining Simulations: Mock labor negotiations are held in coordination with high schools across the state, providing students a chance to engage in and experience contract negotiations in a one-day simulation that brings the process to life.
  • Union Summer School: In our intensive one-week union summer school program, Chicago area high school students learn about labor history, collective bargaining, and how organized labor is critical to achieving economic justice.
  • Check out a recent article in The Nation featuring our Collective Bargaining Role Play program

Email to start a simulation program at your school or organization, or enroll in our summer school.

Breving-Rosenberg High School Summer Internship Program
Our Center offers paid internships for high school students in coordination with local union and worker center campaigns. Interns have the opportunity to get hands-on organizing experience at their placement organizations, and are provided with an orientation and weekly cohort meetings focused on helping them learn about the labor movement, and understand their role in strengthening rights for all workers. Email to apply for an internship or inquire about placing students at your organization.

Individualized Classes and Trainings
We work with unions, worker centers, and community groups to develop specific classes and trainings to fit their needs. Such courses have included but are not limited to introduction to the labor movement, labor history, steward and grievance handling, addressing sexual harassment and racial discrimination, internal and external organizing, campaign mobilization, labor-community partnership, research skills, public speaking, labor law, contemporary labor issues, contract administration, labor-management relations and organizational solidarity building, as well as in depth workshops on any of the topics listed in our Labor Leadership Certificate Program. Email if you are interested in setting up a training for your organization.

Community Book Events and Workshops
Educational programming, including book events and workshops, are held throughout the year at our center. These events are open to all, and aim to facilitate learning and discussion about issues of concern to workers and working-class communities. Email to learn about upcoming events and if you have suggestions for future ones.

The Center conducts scholarly independent and collaborative research with labor and community-based organizations on labor market and movement trends, labor rights, campaign, policy, and member-focused projects. We are trained in qualitative, quantitative, survey, historical, and analytical research methods, and are also part of the Labor Research and Action Network (LRAN) which connects with researchers across the country. Email for more information or to discuss potential research projects or trainings.

Stay Connected
For more information, to get involved in our programs, or to join our listserv and stay informed of upcoming events, please contact Dr. Jessica Cook-Qurayshi at

Please consider supporting our work by making a tax-deductible donation.

Staff & Advisory Committee

  • Jessica Cook

    Jessica Cook-Qurayshi

    Jessica Cook-Qurayshi began her work with the Center as the Lead Instructor in January 2016 and became the Director of the Center in August 2016. Jessica joined the labor movement as a staff organizer and staff union steward at the UNITE HERE international from 2006-2009. She then spent 7 years as a leader and steward with the Graduate Employees Organization (IFT-AFT Local 6297) while working as an instructor in Sociology at UIC, where she earned her PhD. She has also worked closely as a volunteer and researcher with multiple Chicago based worker centers since 2010. Jessica has a PhD in Sociology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her doctoral research focused on the labor movement, worker centers, mass incarceration and criminalization, immigration, citizenship, race and ethnicity, civil society, precarious work, and labor market restructuring. Email Jessica at

  • Jessica Espinoza

    Jessica Espinoza

    Jessica Espinoza joined the Center in the fall of 2019 as the new Associate Director. Her journey in labor started off as a union state employee while earning her Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and Political Science from Portland State University. Upon completion of her undergraduate degree, she spent the next decade working for various unions organizing workers across a variety of industries including state sector, healthcare, janitorial, as well as communications. Supplementing her union staff experience, Jessica has volunteered over the years with various labor education organizations focused on building & developing leadership among rank and file community and labor organizations. She is also currently pursuing her Masters of Science in Labor Studies at UMass Amherst. Email Jessica at

    Advisory Committee

    Our Advisory Committee is comprised of former students and labor leaders who support the Center’s programming. These are the committee’s current members.

  • Jaquie Algree

    Jaquie Algree

  • Juan Campos

    Juan Campos
    Teamsters Local 705

  • Jack Canniff

    Jack Canniff
    Iron Workers Local 63

  • Ana Guajardo Carrillo

    Ana Guajardo Carrillo
    Centro de Trabajadores Unidos

  • Steve Grossman

    Steve Grossman
    IFT Local 1274

  • Meg Lewis

    Meg Lewis
    AFSCME Council 31

  • John Lodewyck

    John Lodewyck
    Elk Grove Village Professional Firefighters Association Local 2340

  • Bob Przybylinski

    Bob Przybylinski
    IBEW Local 21

  • Frank Rodriguez

    Frank Rodriguez
    IBEW 134 Member

  • Stu Sikora

    Stu Sikora
    Cook County College Teachers Union Local 1600

  • Paul Thompson

    Paul Thompson
    Iron Workers Local 63

  • Eddie Vallejo

    Eddie Vallejo
    Teamsters Local 705

  • Jannelle White

    Jannelle White
    Temp Worker-Union Alliance Project/Chicago Workers’ Collaborative

  • Delores Withers

    Delores Withers
    The Federation of College Clerical and Technical Personnel Local 1708

  • Paul Wright

    Paul Wright
    IBEW Local 21

  • Beth Zavala

    Beth Zavala
    The Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union Local 1