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.
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 in Washington, DC. These workshops are not offered for credit and cost $499 per person. For more information, view the course descriptions below.
Bonnie Ladin Union Skills Calendar subject to change.
Register 21 days prior to the first scheduled day of class to secure a space.
or call 301-431-5449.
Bonnie Ladin Union Skills Course Descriptions
LBUS-3450: Advanced Teaching Methods
December 8-13 This is a survey course for experienced trainers and instructors. This course is designed to give an introduction to advanced curriculum design, assessment, course development, and communication in a multi-cultural environment. The participants will have the opportunity to design and teach a course using new techniques and today's hottest technologies. Prerequisites: Teaching Techniques I and II. (3 semester credits)
LBUS-3900: Arbitration Brief Writing
More and more, union advocates are expected to submit briefs after an arbitration hearing. This class takes beginning and advanced advocates through the process of writing and researching a polished brief in a real case. Before the residential class there are four weeks of easy-to-follow online step-by-step assignments that help students immerse themselves in the facts of the case. The fifth and final week of the class is face-to-face residential instruction. It gives students the opportunity for group work and personal feedback and editing by the instructor. Students hone both writing and legal reasoning skills, while also learning how to research and read cases. RELATED CLASSES: Arbitration Preparation and Presentation Levels I and II; Grievance Mediation; Strategic Grievance Handling. (3 semester credits)
LBUS-3901: Arbitration Preparation and Presentation Level I
June 16-21, September 29-October 4
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-3902: Arbitration Preparation and Presentation Level II
A continuation of Arbitration Level I, this course will challenge participants to analyze either a contract interpretation case or a case involving "Past Practice" (check course dates to see which type of case is being taught). As in Level I, students will prepare the case in a workshop setting where they receive detailed critiques, Revised April 16, 2013 Page 2 of 5 and the week culminates with a mock arbitration and additional feedback. Mock arbitrations will be videotaped. Discussions include the role of member organization, documentary evidence, information requests, and bargaining unit surveys in establishing and proving past practices. MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS: Level I or permission of the instructor. NOTE: Only two students who have completed the Level I course will be granted permission to take Level II. Students exempt from the Level I course must possess extensive hearing experience. RELATED CLASSES: Arbitration Preparation & Presentation Level I; Arbitration Brief Writing; Grievance Mediation; and Strategic Grievance Handling. (3 semester credits)
LBUS-3906: Contract Negotiations in the Private Sector
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)
LBUS-0070: Conflict Resolution Workshop June 11-12
This is a two-day non-credit workshop. The ability to defuse, deflect, decompress, and disarm conflict whenever it arises is a useful skill for all adults, especially for union leaders, staffers and activists. In this workshop participants will learn how to avoid becoming emotionally hijacked by conflict and instead use it to develop solutions by managing their conflict quotient. Participants will engage in a SWOT analysis around conflict resolution best practices. The workshops will use scenarios involving meetings, committees, and one-on-one interactions. (non-credit)
LBUS-3898: Grievance Mediation
Grievance mediation provides an opportunity for the parties to resolve a grievance using interest based with the assistance of a mediator. This three-day workshop aims at giving union members, officers, and staff an understanding of the principles of grievance mediation as well as hands-on training in the skills needed to make the best use of a mediator. The skills taught-including listening, identifying issues, and exploring shared interests-can also be used to improve day-to-day grievance handling, employer union relations, and even problem solving within the union. RELATED CLASSES: Strategic Grievance Handling; Arbitration Preparation and Presentation Level I; Arbitration Brief Writing. (2 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)
LBUS-3912: Negotiating and Writing Contract Language
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-3913: Negotiating Contracts with State and Local Governments
Union officers and staff who negotiate labor agreements with state, county, and local governments will benefit from this course, which explores the role of a chief negotiator at different parts of the bargaining process. Specifically, participants will scrutinize the preparation and design of initial proposals; the development of committee work and record-keeping procedures; the structure and function of opening statements; economic bargaining; and preparation and directions of the ratification process. A highly experienced union negotiator will walk participants through a tough municipal bargaining exercise aimed at encouraging students to weigh negotiating strategies and tactics. NOTE: Federal sector negotiations will not be addressed in this course. (2 semester credits)
LBUS-3605: New Union Staff
This course is designed for those who have recently been appointed or elected to a full-time union staff position. The course will focus on developing personal skills and critical thinking needed to function effectively in the many different roles of a union staff member. The course will also help to improve planning skills needed to manage contract negotiations, run organizing campaigns, and participate in running a local union. To provide a better understanding of the new staff member's role, the course will review the basic structure, operation, and goals of various AFL-CIO affiliates. Staff members from a number of different unions in attendance will enrich the discussions, presentations, exercises, class participation, and feedback. (2 semester credits)
LBUS-3915: Organizing I
June 9-14, September 8-13
Through role play and discussion, participants will refine their skills and expand their knowledge about organizing. This is an ideal course for staff new to organizing, as well as those who want to learn more about the latest strategies to grow their union. Participants will examine a typical local union campaign in the private sector from start to finish. Students will learn about one-on-one communications, develop a workplace committee, and explore campaign strategies. Employer anti-union campaigns, legal strategies, and planning skills will also be emphasized. (2 semester credits)
LBUS-3916: Organizing II
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-0050: Public Speaking Workshop
This is a two-day non-credit workshop. The cornerstones of union work - organizing, bargaining, political action and member mobilization - rely on effective communication. It is a critical skill that every union leader, staff member or steward needs. This introductory workshop focuses on proven techniques for becoming a better public speaker. Participants will have the opportunity to improve their personal delivery style through a series of practice sessions and gain insights on how to prepare a persuasive presentation that is clear, concise and concrete. Note: Completion of a brief pre-training survey is required. (non-credit)
LBUS-3550: Secretary-Treasurers and Officers Fiduciary Responsibility Training
It is crucial for the entire executive board of a local to understand their fiduciary responsibilities. This training will cover the legal responsibilities of union officers and review the LMRDA (the law that governs labor unions) and IRS rules and regulations. This three-day workshop will cover various aspects of managing the financial side of administering a union, as well as managing the union finances through setting policies and procedures as well as organizing and managing the finances and budgeting. Other topics covered during this training include, travel and business expenses, insurance, record keeping, payroll information, bank accounts and union credit cards, and budgeting. This course is designed for all local unions. 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. (1 semester credit)
LBUS-3500: Secretary-Treasurers Total Solution Training
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-3080: Strategic Grievance Handling
Most grievance handling is done in "servicing" mode without involving members or contributing to the organizational strength of the union. This class, which is suitable for beginning stewards as well as experienced union representatives, focuses on using grievances to build the union. Its goal is for students to leave with revitalized organizing plans and skills to address current issues and to involve members in the daily life of the union. Working with the actual problems students bring to class, students will analyze both relevant contract and legal rights, and the strategic and organizational issues presented. Students will then explore how the problems can be used to build member involvement and union power by applying listening skills, surveying, mapping, charting, and campaign strategies. Particular emphasis is placed on developing member participation through concerted activities in the workplace. Optional evening sessions are provided for those who need information about the basic legal rights of stewards. NOTE: Related courses include Arbitration Preparation & Presentation Levels I and II; Arbitration Brief Writing and Grievance Mediation. (2 semester credits)
LBED-3402: Teaching Techniques I
May 5-10, September 15-20
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)
LBED-3412: Teaching Techniques II
A follow-up to the basic Teaching Techniques I course, this advanced course offers participants the opportunity to upgrade their teaching skills and allows them a forum to exchange ideas with other experienced labor educators. Participants will learn methods for designing effective teaching outlines. In addition, participants will expand the range of techniques they use and will learn how to write their own teaching materials. Leading a discussion-a complex, but critical component of teaching-will be emphasized. Practice teaching, with critique, is also an important part of this program. NOTE: Permission of the instructor is required for admission to this course.
(3 semester credits)
LBUS-3510: Quick Books Training for Secretary-Treasurers and Union Bookkeepers
This is a hands-on class in the computer lab, designed for developing students' proficiency with QuickBooks as it relates to a financial operation of a typical local. The class is for beginners and advanced users of QuickBooks. This three-day workshop will provide students with an excellent understanding of QuickBooks tailored to the needs of their local. The training class will cover a comprehensive overview of QuickBooks, Chart of Accounts, Writing Checks, Banking Deposits and Reconciliations, Payroll Review and Information, Budgets, Credit Cards, Treasurer and Financial Reports, and other information and topics. 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 (latest edition) - The Official Guide for QuickBooks Pro Users. (1 semester credit)
Register 21 days prior to the first scheduled day of class to secure a space.