School of Continuing and Professional Studies > About > Labor Education Center
The roots of what is now the DePaul University Labor Education Center go back to 1948. Since that time, we have served as a resource for students, labor activists, academics and community leaders seeking a deeper understanding of labor issues and tools to gain economic justice for poor and working-class peoples. At our center, we challenge each other to consider #WhatElseMustBeDone to promote a transformational labor movement. Guided by this mission, we build the capacity of unions, worker centers, and community-based organizations through adult and youth labor education, trainings, public events, awareness building, consultations, resource sharing, and research.
For more information on our programs, ways to get involved or support our work, or to be informed of upcoming events, please contact us at
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Building on students’ existing knowledge and skills, the center provides in person and online classes and trainings led by highly trained instructors with real world labor and organizing experience. We strive to help labor movement activists, members, stewards, officers and staff improve their skills and prepare them to take on new levels of leadership.
Labor Leadership Certificate Program
Our certificate-based courses can be taken individually or as part of our six class “Labor Leadership Certificate Program.” Weekly sessions are held in the fall and winter on rotating schedules. These include:
Intro to Labor Leadership I - The Role of the Steward and Labor Law
Intro to Labor Leadership II – Written and Verbal Union Communications and Meeting Facilitation
Advanced Labor Leadership - Collective Bargaining and Labor-Management Relations
Advanced Labor Leadership - Arbitration and Politics
Advanced Labor Leadership - Labor History and Economics
Advanced Labor Leadership - Skills for Organizing and Basics of Health and Safety
Learn more or enroll here.
We work with unions, worker centers, and community-based organizations to provide tailored trainings to fit their needs. Such workshops have included but are not limited to providing an introduction to the labor movement, labor history, stewardship 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 trainings on any of the topics from our Labor Leadership Certificate Program classes. These workshops can be held at our office, your office, or virtually.
To foster a multi-generational labor movement, we provide multiple youth programs aimed at developing pipelines for youth involvement and leadership development.
Regina V. Polk High School Program The 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:
Breving-Rosenberg High School Summer Internship ProgramOur Center offers paid internships for high school students in coordination with local union and worker center campaigns. Youth that actively participated in our Union Summer School are invited to apply the following summer. Our internship trains participants on social justice and labor issues, and places them with local unions, worker centers, and community-based organizations in the Chicagoland area to get hands on organizing experience. They are provided with an orientation and weekly cohort meetings focused on helping them learn about the labor movement, social justice, and understand their role in strengthening rights for all workers.
Our center also conducts public in person and online programming to promote a broader understanding about the labor movement and issues affecting poor and working-class peoples. We offer regular educational events, workshops, and webinars for students, community members, and labor leaders throughout the year to facilitate learning, open discussions, and new initiatives.
In addition, our center provides strategic consultations for those seeking support in organizing, capacity building, and other needs. We also strive to be a clearinghouse of information, contacts, and resources regarding labor issues. Finally, we conduct scholarly independent and collaborative research with unions, worker centers, 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
Our Advisory Committee is comprised of former students and labor leaders who support the Center’s programming. These are the committee’s current members.
In recognition of organizations that go above and beyond in supporting the work of our Center, we are pleased to offer the following levels of sponsorship. We thank our sponsors for their ongoing commitment to promoting a transformational labor movement!
Please contact us at LEC@depaul.edu so we can identify which sponsorship level works best for your organization.
Gold Levelslots still availableSilver Level
IBEW Local 21
Teamsters Local 705
SEIU Local 73
For more information on our programs, ways to get involved or support our work, or to be informed of upcoming events, please contact us at LEC@depaul.edu. You can also follow us on social media: