Wayne State University's Labor at Wayne program receives $150,000 from the joint funds of the Detroit Three and the UAW

Wayne State University has received three gifts totaling $150,000 from the joint training funds of the Detroit Three automakers and the United Auto Workers (UAW). UAW-Chrysler National Training Center, UAW-Ford National Programs Center and UAW-GM Center for Human Resources have each contributed $50,000 in unrestricted gifts to support the training and educational programs at Labor@Wayne. 

The funding represents the start of an effort by Labor@Wayne to increase research capabilities and educational conferences, provide tuition assistance to workers and students, and expand the reach of labor education through online delivery and robust undergraduate and graduate programs. 

"Labor@Wayne is one of the few remaining university-based programs in the country that integrates academic and external programs devoted to labor education, labor and employment relations, and workplace issues," said Marick F. Masters, the director of Labor@Wayne, professor of business and adjunct professor in political science at Wayne State. "This allows for a real-world curriculum, as well as a thoughtful, scholarly approach to issues that impact the nation’s workforce."

Through initiatives like the Douglas A. Fraser Center for Workplace Issues and the Labor Studies Center, Labor@Wayne brings together key stakeholders from labor, business, government and the community to improve working conditions and workplace practices, especially with effective union representation and labor-management cooperation.

"Labor@Wayne is keeping labor and labor issues on the same level with other human resource issues to ensure future leaders on both the labor and management sides have a thorough and complete view of employment relations," said Dennis Williams, president of the UAW. "Our joint training funds are specifically geared toward efforts like these, and we are proud to continue the UAW’s history of partnership with Wayne State University."

"When there’s a high level of information sharing and understanding on both sides of the bargaining table, everyone benefits," said Jim Glynn, labor relations vice president of GM North America. "Labor@Wayne does a great job of training union and labor management so that there’s an easier path to cooperation."

Within the Labor Studies Center resides the Labor School that offers a certificate program for union workers and workshops to train union representatives and managers in critical skill areas such as negotiation and alternative dispute resolution, especially mediation and arbitration, which are increasingly in use even beyond the workplace. Labor@Wayne’s two degree programs—the undergraduate labor studies major and the master of arts in employment and labor relations (MAELR)—prepare students for leadership roles in business, labor, law, government, and the nonprofit sector in the fields of labor and employment relations and human resource management. 

"As a graduate of the master’s program at Wayne State, I know firsthand the breadth of the learning combined with the research and consulting experience," said Al Iacobelli, vice president of employee relations at Chrysler, LLC. "I pursued that program because I wanted to make a difference in the auto industry and for its workers, and I am grateful that Labor@Wayne will prepare new generations of labor and employment relations professionals."

In today’s turbulent and challenging workplace environment, Labor@Wayne sees a great need to educate workers, managers, students and the public about the role and impact of unions and the continually growing field of labor and employment relations. To meet the rapidly changing needs of professionals in labor and employment relations, dispute resolution and human resource management, Labor@Wayne is launching a number of integrated initiatives to expand the range of educational and training services, including a forthcoming Labor and Employment Relations Leadership Academy, a new undergraduate program curriculum, a People@Work undergraduate learning community, and a Career Services Advisory Roundtable (to work in conjunction with the newly established WSU student chapter of the Society of Human Resource Management).

"The collaborative relationship between the UAW and the Detroit Three is instrumental to the success of American manufacturing," said Bill Dirksen, vice president of labor affairs at Ford Motor Company. "Through the valuable Labor@Wayne curriculum, it’s critically important that we continue train the next generation of labor and employment relations leaders for the benefit of a strong U.S. economy."

In recognition of their contributions toward these efforts, Labor@Wayne hosted a luncheon for representatives from the Detroit Three and the UAW on July 23, 2014, to thank them for their generosity and to provide details about the impact of their contributions.

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