Labor Studies

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
Dean: Joel Kassiola

Labor Studies Program
HSS 336
Director: Brenda Cochrane

Undergraduate Adviser: Brenda Cochrane


Professors--Bradley, Cherny, LeVeen, Reisch, Sampson, Schneider

Associate Professors--Bonfield, Caulfield, Cochrane, Hossfeld, Mar

Assistant Professor--Rivera-Pinderhughes


B.A. in Labor Studies

Minor in Labor Studies

Program Scope

The Labor Studies Program attracts students interested in how our lives are shaped by work and its results. Starting from the practical problems of work, workers and their organizations, labor students investigate the underlying economic, political, and cultural forces. Drawing on the full range of social science and other disciplines, students develop practical and analytical skills needed in working with labor, government, and other organizations in the labor field.

Labor Studies courses combine broad perspectives with specific skills. Introductory courses provide a general knowledge about work, workers, and their organizations. Electives enable students to examine areas in greater depth. Individual and group research projects encourage students to develop skills through investigation of specific problems such as: obstacles to organizing among immigrant workers; labor management cooperation's impact on grievance-handling and collective bargaining; use of computer information systems in local union operations; corporate buyouts' effects on workers' job security; pressure of international competition on working and living standards domestically and abroad; and child care provision through union activity. In these and other problems, students are encouraged to do first-hand investigation by working directly with those involved.

Students are employed generally, and Labor Studies courses are offered usually in the evening. Advising is available both days and evenings, and students are informed periodically by letter of new developments. Overall, the Labor Studies Program aims to meet the needs of nontraditional working-adult students as well as of traditional day students.

Labor Studies instructors combine the analytical and the practical in their courses. Both regular SFSU faculty and practitioners with labor, government, and other organizations bring together experience for broad perspectives and expertise for specific skills. With the Labor Studies Advisory Board of unionists and others active in the Bay Area labor scene, instructors develop and teach courses reflecting immediate concerns and future goals. Instructors and the Advisory Board help students bridge the gap between university and the labor scene.

Career Outlook

Labor Studies graduates work in a variety of occupations. Some are employed by local and national labor unions as organizers, representatives, researchers, negotiators, trainers, and trust-fund administrators. Others work for government agencies responsible for worker rights and protection in the National Labor Relations Board, U.S. Department of Labor, California Department of Industrial Relations, and other government agencies. Still others are elected union officers, labor educators training unionists in union representation, or journalists covering labor relations for print or electronic media. Labor Studies graduates also go on to advanced study in industrial and labor relations, public administration, law, and other disciplines.


The Labor Studies major is organized into four tiers. The first tier, which includes LABR 250 and 300, provides a basic introduction to the field, including the range of topics and ways of studying those topics through the use of social science concepts and methodologies. The second tierbuilds upon this foundation in four areas: labor economics, labor and government, organizational theory and practice, and labor's relation to the larger society. The third tier, which is elective in nature, provides a way for the Labor Studies major to focus upon those areas of knowledge and skill directly related to his/her vocational objectives. The final tier, usually taken in the final semester before graduation, provides a career development seminar, vocationally-related internship, or field experience.

Courses for this program are listed in alphabetical sequence (consult Index for page reference).


Tier I: Foundations

LABR 250	Introduction to the Study of Labor		3

LABR 300	Researching Labor Issues		3
Total for Tier I		6

Tier II: Four Required Courses

LABR 400	Union Structure and Administration		3
LABR 500	Labor and Government		4
ECON 510	Labor Economics		3
One course selected from the following:		3-4
HIST 474	History of Labor in the United 
SS 343	Women and Work

SOC 488	Industrial Sociology (4)
Total for Tier II		13-14

Tier III: Vocationally Related Electives

The student and his/her faculty adviser should 
work out a plan through which these
fifteen units of electives will further the
career objectives of the student. 15

Tier IV: Final Experience

An internship with an appropriate labor-related 
organization or government agency, under
the auspices of an appropriate course or
A field study course, applying the knowl-
edge and skills acquired in the Labor
Studies program to the analysis of some
appropriate labor-related program, organi-
zation, government agency, event, etc.,
under the auspices of an appropriate
course; e.g., SS 680, Field Course in
Social Science, or LABR 699, Special

Study		3-4
Total for major		37-39


LABR 250	Introduction to the Study of Labor		3
LABR 300	Researching Labor Issues		3
LABR 400	Union Organization and Adminis-
tration 3
LABR 500	Labor and Government		4
ECON 510	Labor Economics		3
Electives on advisement		7
Total for minor		23

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