University of Oregon

2017 AFL-CIO Summer School


Registration NOW OPEN!

AUG 4-6, 2017
University of Oregon campus in Eugene, OR

The 2017 AFL-CIO Summer School will focus on how we strengthen unions and build a united movement at a time of growing divisions in the country. Join us for engaging classes and plenary discussions of the challenges facing Oregon workers and what it takes to build a fair economy.

New this year: Tools for fighting for change while significant portions of our membership are under renewed attack; Building unity across the “political divide” – finding ways to unite members who disagree on politics; Learning how unions can organize and stay strong under “right to work” laws.

Download the poster here (pdf)

Registration Fees:
Commuter $315,  Double dorm room $365,  Single dorm room $400

Registration Closes July 7, 2017.  No refunds or cancellations after July 7, 2017.

Summer School and dormitory housing will be located at the University of Oregon Global Scholars Hall and the Knight Law School. This program is designed for union members. Those seeking financial aid to attend Summer School may apply here for the Alice Dale Scholarship.

  • Friday, Aug 4
    • 3:00pm – 6:00pm  –  Sign-in & room assignment
    • beginning at 6:30pm  –  Dinner, opening session
  • Saturday, Aug 5
    • beginning at 8:30am  –  Courses, workshops, lunchtime plenary and evening picnic/entertainment
  • Sunday, Aug 6
    • beginning at 8:15 – Plenary, courses and workshops
    • 12:45pm  –  Conference concludes

(all meals are provided with the exception of breakfasts for commuters)  More details will be emailed to participants and posted here as Summer School approaches.


Participants choose either one core course that runs throughout the weekend OR choose 3 workshops from the workshop tracks. You may sign up for a combination of workshops from any of the three workshop tracks.

Core Courses

Building Strong Unions in a Right to Work Environment
Instructor: Sherman Henry, LERC
How do you keep a union strong when no one has to pay dues? How do you build a union that members believe in and fight for? This course explores the life of unions under “right to work” laws including how servicing, bargaining committees and leadership has to change to respond to dues being optional. The course is for both beginning and experienced activists, and is taught by someone with long-time experience leading a union in a “right to work” state.

Winning Issue Campaigns in the Workplace
Instructors: Sarah Laslett, LERC and Elizabeth Pellerito, UAUO
Many union members don’t feel connected to contract negotiations, but are upset by local problems in their everyday work lives. This class will teach you how to win campaigns about workplace problems — without having to file grievances — and use these fights to get more people involved in the life of the union.

United We Stand: Labor History and the Challenge of Solidarity
Instructor: Bob Bussel, LERC 
This class will explore the challenges unions have faced and the successful strategies they have used to build solidarity based on principles of equity and inclusion over the past century. We will look at films, oral history, cartoons, art, and music to draw lessons from the past that we can apply to the present.

American Jobs in a Global Economy: Free Trade, Fair Trade and “Buy American”
Instructor: Catherine Houston, United Steelworkers
Ever since NAFTA, American companies have been shipping jobs abroad, to wherever labor is cheapest. This course will focus on what’s at stake right now in renegotiating NAFTA, challenging the World Trade Organization, and demanding “Buy American” standards for big infrastructure projects. We will also look at how NAFTA helped drive forced migration from Mexico to the US. Participants will get equipped to know what’s what and take a stand on these issues.

Workshop Track 1: Advocacy Skills

1A. Representing Co-Workers: Effective Advocacy Skills
Instructors: Barbara Byrd, LERC and Janella James, AFT
Do you want to represent your members more successfully? This workshop will examine effective responses to supervisors and how to communicate assertively with management. We’ll work with realistic scenarios and share ideas about what really works.

1B. Talking to Management Like an Equal
Instructors: Barbara Byrd, LERC and Janella James, AFT
Stewards are legally the equals of management! But how do you move beyond the typical supervisor-employee relationship to successfully exercise that equality? Find out how to walk the walk!

1C. Dealing with Bully Bosses
Instructors: Barbara Byrd, LERC and Janella James, AFT
Bully bosses are alarmingly prevalent in today’s workplaces. In this class, you’ll hear about what makes bullies tick, how to distinguish illegal behavior from other forms of mistreatment, and learn strategies for dealing with bullies.

Workshop Track 2: Becoming an Effective Leader for Equity & Inclusion in the Workplace

2A. Building Equity by Combating Harassment Based on Race and Ethnicity
Instructors: Raahi Reddy, LERC and Heather Blankenheim, SEIU 503
In this workshop we will explore how racism and xenophobia, from supervisors toward workers or even member to member, can tear away at the fabric of a community. We will learn effective techniques for intervening when a worker is being bullied or harassed. Join us for an informative, interactive and empowering workshop for the equity leader in us all! 

2B. Building Equity in the Workplace by Combating Harassment Based on Gender 
Instructors: Raahi Reddy, LERC and Heather Blankenheim, SEIU 503
We will explore how to stand up for women and LGBT workers in the workplace, learn to identify harassing behavior based on gender, and to be advocates for workers who are facing harassment and bullying from supervisors and co-workers. This workshop builds on Workshop 2A but is open to everyone. 

2C. Know Your Rights: Undocumented Immigrants as Co-workers, Customers, and Clients
Instructors: Cooper Brinson, Staff attorney, Civil Liberties Defense Center and Phil Carrasco, Oregon AFL-CIO
What are your rights when ICE shows up to your work or home? Union members interact with undocumented immigrants as co-workers and as members of the public at our workplaces. This workshop provides legal education on your rights in the workplace and in serving the public.

Workshop Track 3: Policy & Politics

3A. Talking about Dues and “Right to Work”
Instructors: Chelsea Watson and Alma Raya, Oregon AFL-CIO
It’s possible that in the near future, Oregon may lose its “fair share” law and come under a federal “right to work” law. This workshop will give you the tools, background, comfort and confidence to talk about these issues in a straightforward way with co-workers. All questions are welcome!

3B. Talking Across the Political Divide: a Union for Conservative and Liberal Members
Instructors: Debra Kidney, AFSCME and Tony Cardwell, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees
Conservative union members sometimes feel there is no place for them in unions that typically endorse liberal candidates. Liberal members sometimes feel conservatives support anti-union candidates. In this workshop, you’ll learn communication and deep listening skills and work on finding common ground with those who see the world very differently from you. 

3C. “And Still They Persisted”: How People are Standing up for Their Communities
Instructor: Raahi Reddy, LERC
The last six months have seen some of the most inspiring uprisings of working people across the country – including marches, community assemblies, and national one-day strikes by immigrants and by women workers. We will learn about these campaigns and share strategies that can be put to use in our communities

Register NOW!

Faculty Coordinator: Gordon Lafer
Conference Coordinator: Leigh Roberts

Labor Education and Research Center
1289 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1289
541.346.5054
lerc@uoregon.edu 

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