Labor Unions and Social Movements


Labor Unions and Social Movements Concentration or Minor

Do you want to help people achieve dignity at work – along with better treatment and a higher standard of living?  Are you intrigued by recent social movements around immigration and other issues?  Do you realize that New Jersey is one of the most unionized states in the U.S. and that by studying unions you can have excellent employment opportunities?  We offer this focus either as a concentration within the Labor Studies and Employment Relations major or as a minor!


Careers related to Labor Unions and Social Movements

  • Union organizer or staff representative.  Some people find their life’s passion in helping other people form a union.  Union organizer is one of the entry-level jobs open to those with this minor or concentration.  Staff representatives negotiate contracts, train union activists, lobby public agencies, and help employees who have grievances.  A graduate degree is usually needed to become a staff representative.  Consider our 5-year combined Bachelors/Masters program.


  • Labor relations specialist.  Labor relations professionals work for private and public organizations that have union-represented employees. They negotiate contracts for the employer, handle grievances, interface with human resource departments, and attempt to prevent future labor relations problems.  Although a graduate degree is usually required for these positions, the undergraduate program is an excellent place to start.


  • Researcher.  Unions, interest organizations, think-tanks, and universities all employ researchers. Research can be web-based, involve fieldwork, surveys, and/or data analysis – and may or may not be combined with public policy advocacy. Unions, for example, need people who can analyze a corporation’s financial situation, and a bachelor’s degree can lead directly to this type of job; other research positions may require graduate study.


  • Labor relations agency staff.  Neutral public agencies regulate the field of labor and employment relations, run representation elections, and help resolve labor disputes. The National Labor Relations Board, the NJ Public Employment Relations Commission, and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service all are agencies of this type. An undergraduate concentration in Labor Unions and Social Movements is the place to start if you want a career as a “neutral” in such an agency.  But earning a graduate degree can greatly expand the opportunities available to you in this area.


For requirements, 


For the minor:  To complete a minor in Labor Unions and Social Movements, six courses are required.  You must take (a) One 100-level Labor Studies & Employment Relations course, (b) at least four courses from the list below, and (c) one other course at the 200 level or higher offered by the Labor Studies and Employment Relations Department.


For the major concentration:  To complete a concentration in Labor Unions and Social Movements, you must fulfill all the requirements of the major, including at least four courses from the list below.  Courses in the concentration count toward the major.


Courses specific to the Labor Unions and Social Movements concentration or minor:


Must take at least four:

37:575:201           U.S. Labor & Work before the End of Reconstruction

37:575:202           History of Labor & Work in the U.S. 1880-1945

37:575:207           NJ Labor History

37:575:310           Labor Relations in Professional Sports

37:575:314           Collective Bargaining

37:575:319           Leadership and Governance of Labor Unions

37:575:322           American Labor Unions in Politics

37:575:335           Women and the Labor Movement in the U.S. and Globally

37:575:340           American Labor Law

37:575:350           Public Sector Collective Bargaining

37:575:357           Social Movements, Social Change and Work

37:575:359           Organizing for Social Change

37:575:360           Union Organizing


Labor Studies & Employment Relations Faculty Involved in this Area


Will Brucher,  Assistant Teaching Professor, PhD, Brown

Adrienne Eaton, Professor, PhD, Wisconsin

Janice Fine, Associate Professor, PhD, MIT

Chris Hayes, Assistant Teaching Professor, PhD, Rutgers

Charles Heckscher, Professor, PhD, HarvardCarla Katz, Assistant Teaching Professor, J.D., Seton Hall


Francis Ryan,  Assistant Teaching Professor, PhD, Pennsylvania

Sue Schurman, Professor II, PhD, Michigan

Marilyn Schneiderman, Professor of Professional Practice, MSW., Wisconsin

Paula Voos, Professor, PhD, Harvard

Naomi Williams, Assistant Professor, PhD, Wisconsin

For more information, contact one of the following:


Amy Marchitto                                  Talia Schank                                                       Prof. Paula Voos

Undergraduate Advisor                 Undergraduate Advisor                                 Academic Program Director                     

848-932-8559                                     848-932-1749                                                     848-932-1748