Omaha – Since 1980, the William Brennan Institute for Labor Studies’ (WBILS) statewide mission has focused on meeting the educational needs of unionized wage earners and their families with respect to defending and promoting meaningful workplace democracy. From Nebraska City to Chadron, the WBILS has offered educational programming to its target audience. In today’s changing economy and evolving workplaces, labor’s contributions to humanizing the modern employment relationship are needed more than ever.
In response to a growing demand for skilled construction workers, last year Metropolitan Community College opened its Construction Education Center on its Fort Omaha Campus. Metro’s Construction Education Center is an exciting example of the education and business communities collaborating with the public sector to meet the educational needs of its community. Metro is expecting approximately 800 students in its Construction Education Center. Its opening creates more opportunities for lifelong careers in the building and construction trades and will meet a workforce development need that is well-documented.
The WBILS educational offerings at Metro will focus primarily on teaching about organized labor’s many contributions to humanizing the modern employment relationship as it evolved from the Gilded Age to today.
This is the first example of a university-based labor education program working with a community college to provide students enrolled in the building and construction trades curricula with an awareness of what unions are, why they are needed, what they have contributed to strengthening our economy, and how, in the process, they humanized the modern employment relationship.
Why is this important? Because this humanization story is missing from most public education curricula. For decades, the WBILS has taught this history to apprentices in the unionized building and construction trades. From its inception, the WBILS has recognized that both union and non-union segments of Nebraska’s workforce are missing this rich history. Moreover, the WBILS, in partnership with Labor United, Inc., is uniquely suited to present this material to MCC’s students enrolled in classes at its Construction Education Center, and we are excited about what 2018 holds.
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