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Labor Education Center

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About the 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 LEC@depaul.edu.

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

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.

Individualized Trainings

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:

  • Collective Bargaining Role Plays: Mock labor negotiations are held in coordination with local high schools and volunteer coaches, providing students a chance to engage in and experience contract negotiations in a half-day simulation that brings the process to life.  Check out a recent article in The Nation featuring this program.

  • Union Summer School: In our intensive one-week union summer school program, Chicago area high school students learn about labor movement, its history, collective bargaining, their rights, and how organized labor is critical to achieving economic justice.

 

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.  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.


Who We Are

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 jcook18@depaul.edu.

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 j.espinoza@depaul.edu.

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 Algee
SEIU HCII

Juan Campos

Juan Campos
Teamsters Local 705

Jack Canniff

Jack Canniff
Ironworkers Local 63

Steve Grossman

Steve Grossman
IFT Local 1274

Ana Guajardo Carrillo

Ana Guajardo Carrillo
Centro de Trabajadores Unidos

Bob Przybylinski

Bob Przybylinski
IBEW Local 21

Frank Rodriguez

Frank Rodriguez
IBEW 134 Member

Paul Thompson

Paul Thompson
Ironworkers Local 63

Eddie Vallejo

Eddie Vallejo
Teamsters Local 705

Paul Wright

Paul Wright
IBEW Local 21


Sponsorships

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 level sponsor $10,000: includes 10.5 in x 8 in ad in ad book, ad featured and verbal acknowledgement during June 7 event, listed as Gold Level sponsor on our webpage, free labor related workshop for up to 25 participants
  • Silver level sponsor $5,000: includes 10.5 in x 8 in ad in ad book, ad featured and verbal acknowledgement during June 7 event, listed as Silver Level sponsor on our webpage, free labor related workshop for up to 10 participants
  • Bronze level sponsor $2,500: includes 10.5 in x 8 in ad in ad book, ad featured and verbal acknowledgement during June 7 event, listed as Bronze Level sponsor on our webpage

2019-2020 Sponsors 

Gold Level
slots still available

Silver Level

IBEW Local 21

IBEW Local 21

Powering Chicago

Powering Chicago

Bronze Level

Teamsters Local 705

Teamsters Local 705

SEIU Local 73

SEIU Local 73