History & Mission
The Labor Education and Research Center (LERC) at the University of Oregon was established in 1977 by an act of the Oregon Legislature. LERC’s founding was promoted by an alliance of unions, legislators, university faculty, labor relations professionals, and community leaders who believed that workers and unions in Oregon needed a specific program granting them access to the resources and expertise of the state’s higher education system. LERC’s mission is to:
LERC currently has a six-member faculty with strong roots in the union movement and an interdisciplinary range covering such areas as sociology, history, economics, industrial relations, education, and public health.
LERC has a thirty-member advisory board of statewide labor leaders who provide the program with support, guidance, and input.
LERC conducts approximately 50-60 educational programs, conferences, and institutes annually for both local and regional audiences that serve approximately 2,000-2,500 rank-and-file union members, staff, and leaders. These programs include:
Research on Vital Work and Employment Issues
LERC faculty members are available to conduct applied research tailored to the specific needs of unions, policy makers, and community partners. Recent initiatives include research in the following subject areas:
Technical Assistance & Consultation
LERC’s technical assistance efforts feature intensive consultation and aim to help organizations achieve tangible results. Recent collaborations with union partners include:
Public Service & Public Policy
LERC faculty provide technical assistance to legislators, community activists, and governmental agencies at the state, local, and federal level and frequently furnish background information on labor and employment issues to the news media. They also participate actively in professional associations related to labor education and their particular academic disciplines.