Bonnie Ladin Union Skills (BLUS)

Hands-on Training for Today’s Labor Movement

The Bonnie Ladin Union Skills (BLUS) Program offers continuing education classes for union leaders, staff, and activists. Most are week-long intensive courses and combine in-class instruction with discussions of real-life experiences shared by a diverse group of students. Students learn valuable skills in union organizing, bargaining, and administration to better serve their union sisters and brothers.

The program was named to honor our colleague and friend Bonnie Ladin, who passed away in August of 2010. Generous donations by Peter Angelos, the United Food and Commercial Workers, and others play an important role in the program’s continued success.

Customized Training

The NLC Bonnie Ladin Union Skills Program also develops customized training for unions – local, district, state, and national union organizations. Customized training may be held at your location or ours. Trainers may be provided by your union or NLC. Training may be based on existing Union Skills courses or on topics that better fit the needs of your union. Please contact the NLC Bonnie Ladin Union Skills Program to discuss training for your union.

Just Added: New Workshops

We are now offering two-day workshops on conflict resolution and public speaking with more topics coming soon. These practical and useful trainings will be held at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C. For more information, view the course descriptions below.

BLUS Facilities

Most BLUS courses are held at the Conference Center at the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies (MITAGS), a union facility and home of the International Organization of Masters, Mates, and Pilots, AFL-CIO, in Linthicum, Maryland. MITAGS is conveniently located next to Baltimore-Washington International Airport and I-95.

Two-day workshops are held at the AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C.


Register Online
Register 21 days prior to the first scheduled day of class to secure a space.
Request Information
Or call 301-431-5430.

Bonnie Ladin Union Skills Calendar and Course Descriptions

LBUS-3901: Arbitration Preparation and Presentation Level I: January 26-31, 2014
Any union advocate knows how vital it is to analyze cases from both sides prior to trying them, and to possess sharp skills during an arbitration hearing. Suitable for all levels, this demanding class will help develop the skills of the novice and hone the skills of the experienced advocate. Students analyze a sample disciplinary case involving “Just Cause” and practice direct and cross-examination and opening statements in a workshop setting; students also discuss closing arguments. At the end of the week, students participate in full-scale mock arbitrations and receive additional constructive critiques. The mock arbitrations are videotaped. MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS: Participants with less than three years of grievance handling experience must talk to the instructor prior to registering. RELATED CLASSES: Arbitration Preparation & Presentation-Level II; Arbitration Brief Writing; Grievance Mediation; and Strategic Grievance Handling. (3 semester credits)

LBUS-3906: Contract Negotiations in the Private Sector: January 26-31, 2014
The unique challenges posed by private sector contract negotiations will be explored fully in this course, which explores the role of the chief negotiator from preparing initial proposals to ratifying a contract. Developing committee work and recordkeeping procedures; the use of economic data in bargaining; the design of a bargaining campaign; and preparing for and part of the course is a tough bargaining exercise designed to help participants effectively weigh negotiating strategies and tactics. (2 semester credits)

LBED-3402: Presentation and Teaching Techniques I: February 9-14, 2014
With an ever-present need for renewed activism and broader involvement among the rank-and-file, membership education is a top priority of today’s unions. This introductory course – ideal for union staff members who teach at conferences, workshops, or other educational settings – covers a broad range of education skills, from planning a time-sensitive teaching outline to conducting an effective class. Since most adults learn better when actively involved, this class will stress participation techniques. Practice teaching is a key component of the course, and during these sessions, guidance and feedback by a skilled labor educator will be offered. (3 semester credits)

LBUS-3500: Secretary-Treasurers Total Solution Training: February 10-13, 2014
Secretary-Treasurers manage hundreds of thousands of dollars of the membership and local’s money. They have the responsibility to ensure the prudent handling of funds and compliance with all the regulatory requirements dictated by the IRS and DOL. This four-day workshop is designed for all locals (LM-2, LM-3, LM-4), providing students with effective tools to accomplish their filings and to learn their fiduciary responsibilities. The four day class is hands-on, designed for developing student’s proficiency with QuickBooks as it relates to a financial operation of a typical local. The workshop material will provide students with an excellent understanding of all the new requirements and assist with vital information relating to managing their local’s finances. Students must bring to class their own PC/Windows based laptops with the latest version of QuickBooks loaded and working properly. Do not use the online version of QuickBooks. This class does not accommodate Macs. Required book: Intuit’s QuickBooks Small Business Accounting 2012 – The Official Guide for QuickBooks Pro Users. (2 semester credits)

LBUS-3916: Organizing II: March 23-28, 2014
This course, focusing on the private sector, is designed for those who have completed Organizing I, who have comparable organizing experience, or who will assume (or have assumed) greater organizing responsibilities. Specific elements include recruiting and training of union members in the organizing process; leader development; corporate campaign research; legal strategies; database/reporting procedures; campaign issues and theme development; community involvement; campaign planning; and progress analysis. (2 semester credits)

LBUS-3912: Negotiating and Writing Contract Language: April 13-18, 2014
Participants in this course will learn how to develop effective bargaining strategy and how to write contract language. Participants will learn the “how-to’s” of writing contract language: defining and analyzing issues, developing proposals, and writing the actual language. In addition, particular kinds of contract language will be examined. Throughout the week, participants will work on a number of case studies. NOTE: Prior to enrolling in this course, it is strongly recommended that participants have experience as a member of a union negotiating committee. (2 semester credits)

LBUS-3927: “Train-the-Trainer” on Workplace Health and Safety: April 13-18, 2014
This six-day “train-the-trainer” program focuses on workplace health and safety. Participants – union activists, staff, and local health and safety representatives – will learn the fundamentals of workplace health and safety, with a focus on the following topics: identifying hazards in the workplace, legal rights of workers and unions, employer record-keeping requirements, introduction to ergonomics, and effective health and safety committees. NOTE: permission of the instructor is required. Participants must be sponsored by their union and must agree to facilitate safety and health training in their union. The sponsoring union must make a commitment to support the participants in conducting health and safety training for its members. (3 semester credits)

LBUS-3910: Labor Relations in the Federal Sector
Union leaders and staff who work with the federal sector face unique challenges and situations. This course, taught by labor professionals, will provide an overview of issues related to the representation of federal sector Revised April 16, 2013 workers, including, collective bargaining, contract enforcement, workers compensation, solidarity building and federal labor history. (2 semester credits)

Register Online
Register 21 days prior to the first scheduled day of class to secure a space.
Request Information
Or call 301-431-5430.