Teaching Tomorrow’s Labor Leaders

Inside Higher Ed has an interesting look at a unique institution:

Welcome to the National Labor College, where library visitors are greeted by a bronze sculpture of George Meany, the plumber turned A.F.L.-C.I.O. president who first envisioned the campus. But much has changed in the labor movement since Meany started building it up more than 50 years ago. Unions are at a crossroads, and many question how they will retool themselves for the 21st century. Membership fell to about 12 percent of the workforce in 2008, down from 20 percent in 1983 when comparable data first became available, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It is with the challenges facing unions in mind that the Labor College seeks to transform and rebrand itself. Founded as a training center for organizers in 1969, the college became accredited in 2004 and has placed renewed emphasis on awarding bachelor’s degrees and broadening its curriculum.

A “key addition” to the university’s curriculum is “Labor and the Economy,” a required course which “explores the economic and global dynamics that instructors say led to the current economic crisis, as well as Keynesian economic policies that were often cited by supporters of the stimulus package Congress passed in February.”

Shouldn’t that be a required course everywhere?

Jesse Singal

Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.