The purpose of The LABOR School at Penn State is to advance the University’s land grant mission by helping to build an inclusive, democratic society.  We provide educational opportunities that give voice to Pennsylvania workers, improve their lives and communities and strengthen their organizations.

The LABOR School is Penn State’s outreach program to the Pennsylvania labor movement, providing low-cost education and training programs for workers and their organizations throughout the state.

We offer multi-union programs designed to promote recognition of the shared challenges facing workers, as well as special events and workshops on current issues. In addition, we assist local, regional, and national unions and labor councils and federations by designing education programs or providing instructors and speakers on a range of relevant topics.

Our Current Initiatives:

The Labor Activist Academy

This program consists of four short courses that equip and inform labor activists and leaders to meet the challenges facing today’s labor movement.  The courses are also designed to develop critical thinking skills and to increase capacity for building power.  Using a multi-union and organization setting, the courses encourage participation and networking with other activists.  Each course includes ten hours of classroom time over four weeks and is conducted in partnership with a central labor council.  Participants who complete all four courses will graduate with a certificate of completion from Penn State.

Academy programming has been offered in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and the Lehigh Valley and has been known previously as the Union Leadership Academy (ULA). All programs were conducted in partnership with the central labor council in each of these areas. Upcoming training locations include:

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Customized Training

The LABOR School offers customized education programs for local unions, labor councils, and other labor organizations on a variety of subjects.  We tailor the content and design to meet your organization’s desired outcomes for the program.  We travel to your location and can work with your staff to deliver training together. We’ve done everything from labor history presentations to a multi-day training program for a growing local union.

Organizational Development

Our labor educators are available to support your executive board, staff and member committees in organizational development.  This includes strategic planning sessions, meeting facilitation, assistance with equity and diversity issues, and other organizational needs.  We have significant experience working directly with organizations to strengthen internal capacity. Recent examples of include facilitating strategic planning with the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO as well as facilitating a meeting with local union officers and a newly formed diversity caucus.

Mid-Atlantic Labor Leadership Initiative (MALLI)

This multi-state, regional leadership development program is designed to bring together labor leaders and allied organizational leaders who have significant leadership responsibilities in their respective organizations.  These leaders participate in peer-to-peer workshops to explore more effective ways for the labor movement to meet the serious challenges faced by unions, union allies and their members. 

This year-long program was created by the National AFL-CIO with the support and cooperation of the AFL-CIO federations.  The MALLI curriculum is a joint effort of labor education programs at Penn State, Cornell, Rutgers, and West Virginia.

See our flyer!