Labor Studies

Organized labor has been credited with negotiating contracts that not only benefitted unionized employees, but which became benchmarks for non-union employers as well. Collective bargaining and its “spill over” effect are acknowledged for helping to broadly expand the American middle class. Even conservative columnist George Will acknowledged as much when he wrote, “I think American labor unions get a large share of the credit for making us a middle-class country.” Any objective view of history reveals the important role that organized labor has played in expanding democracy in and out of the workplace, improving our national standard of living, advancing and protecting employee rights and dignity, and securing safe and healthy workplaces.

University based labor education grew following World War II when unions and higher education began a partnership to provide a wide range of noncredit university-level education and training aimed at “enhancing then organizational and administrative proficiency and bargaining expertise of the unions.”

This public service outreach model came to Nebraska in 1980 with the establishment of the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s (UNO) William Brennan Institute for Labor Studies. The Institute acts as a bridge extending the resources of the university to the broader Nebraska community thereby making its resources more readily available to Nebraskans and their labor organizations.

The Institute has a statewide responsibility to provide direct hands-on education, training, and consultation to unions, their staff, leaders, and members to help them become fully engaged citizens advocating for their full rights in the workplace and the community. The Institute accomplishes this by providing the education and skills training needed for effectively meeting the challenges provided by an ever changing economy, workplace, and workforce and by expanding public awareness about the role, significance and contributions of unions in our state and nation.

Because too few Nebraskans appreciate the significant role unions have played in the promotion of individual rights and the economic well-being of our workforce, the Institute also engages in outreach efforts to expand the public awareness about the contributions organized labor has made and continues to make to our democratic society.

Go to the William Brennan Institute Homepage at the University of Nebraska - Omaha.


John Kretzschmar, Director

Received his Master of Social Work degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. He worked with organized labor and the University of Nebraska at Omaha to start the Institute for Labor Studies in 1980. Since then, he has taught organizing and negotiating skills to thousands of trade unionists from Nebraska and surrounding states. He is a member of the American Association of University Professors and the United Association for Labor Education.

Former Staff

Edgar Moore Gives Retirement Speech 12-11-13 at Steamfitters & Plumbers 464 Reception

Edgar Moore, Labor Educator

Received his Master of Arts degree in Industrial Relations from the University of Minnesota. As a teacher in the Detroit public school system, he served on the executive board of the local union of the Detroit Federation of Teachers and as a delegate to the Detroit AFL-CIO Council. Moore served for 17 years on the faculty of the Labor Education and Research Service at Omaha State University. Before his move to Nebraska, he was director of labor programs in the western region office of the New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. He is a member of the American Association of University Professors and the United Association for Labor Educators.



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