Justice at Work: Labor, Civil Rights, Immigration and the Law
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What does “justice” mean in the context of the workplace? Freedom from discrimination and harassment? Fair compensation? The presence of a fair, equal system for resolving labor management disputes? Or a system for punishing misdeeds? In this class we’ll examine the ways that workers and managers have understood “justice at work.” We will also study the social movements and conditions that led to the passage of important bodies of law, including labor, civil rights and immigration law -- specifically the National Labor Relations Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and laws affecting immigrant workers.
All of these laws define human rights but also reflect the shape of power in society. They can determine how workers and managers interact. Their texts were written by lawmakers, but, in another sense, they were written in the streets and workplaces in turbulent times. Class and racial biases exist in and are reproduced by the laws. We’ll study how the struggles at their roots shaped the laws and how they work in the 21st century workplace. Winter quarter's work will focus on labor law; Spring's on race, civil rights, and immigration.
Students will become acquainted with the critiques developed by scholars of Critical Race Theory and Critical Legal Studies which help advance our thinking about power in the larger society and alternative possibilities for justice.
Be prepared for fun, active problem-solving and hard work. Students will learn to do some basic legal and historical research. You will get a sense of the real work of attorneys and courts, but also the work of community activists, union stewards, and managers.
Students who are particularly interested in either labor, civil rights, or immigration issues are strongly urged to participate in both quarters of the program; the connections between these histories and legal regimes are essential to understand. Though there are no prerequisites, students with substantial work experience will find it useful, as will those with a basic background in 20th century American history. You should have the patience and persistence to read detailed histories, statutes, and legal cases.
The class is designed as an 8-credit, half time program with a 16 credit internship option. Students who would like to work in internships will participate in all of the class activities and will work in their internship positions for approximately 20 hours per week during the winter, and spring quarters.
The internships may be located in public agencies, in private sector workplaces, or with labor organizations or community organizations that address workplace concerns. They may focus on research, advocacy, or direct services. You must arrange your own internship, in collaboration with faculty. Please see Academic and Career Advising's Internship Coordinator for some suggestions or to discuss an employment-related internship with your current employer.
This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:
law, labor organizing, history, community organizing, public administration, management
Credits per quarter
- Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.
$25 required fee spring quarter for an event at the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies, University of Washington, Seattle
16-credit students must have arranged a 20-hour-per-week internship with a labor union, civil rights organization, immigration rights or immigrant organization, or human resources or labor relations office of a company or agency. Faculty will provide interested students with some sources, but students must set up their own internships, with faculty approval.
Class Size: 30
Located in: Olympia