Labor Studies Program

The Labor Studies program (LABS) was developed in response to requests from the South Central Iowa Labor Council and a number of union locals in DMACC's service area. The groups believed that current and potential union leaders would increase their effectiveness by developing leadership skills and increasing their knowledge of the history and traditions of the labor movement, including processes and techniques that were unique in the collective bargaining relationship.

The curriculum was developed with the assistance of an advisor committee, composed of representatives of organized labor, assisted by John “Dutch” Kleweight, a DMACC faculty member who had been an officer of the local Communication Workers of America (CWA). He was also the first LABS program chair. The college had a strong and positive relationship with labor leaders and had provided assistance to several union apprentice educational programs. The initial advisory committee included prominent union leaders Don Rowen, Perry Chapin, and Harold Belken.

The program faculty was predominantly adjunct instructors in the LABS courses who had knowledge and experience in the area of focus.

The curriculum for the Labor Studies program followed the para‐professional model with 36 credits in LABS courses, 25 elective credits and the liberal arts core of 36 credits to complete an Associate in Arts degree.

The advisory committee recommended that several certificate options be created to allow students to specialize in an interest area. A labor studies certificate required six labor studies course and two electives. The advisory committee also hoped that students would enroll in courses that were of specific interest to them.

The degree requirements included the college “general education” component in addition to both the required and elective labor studies (LABS) courses.

  • *Grievance Handling and Arbitration
  • *History and Development of the Labor Movement
  • Labor Relations Legislation
  • Labor Legislation in the Public Sector
  • *Protective Labor Legislation
  • Union Psychology and Participation Skills
  • *Trends in Collective Bargaining
  • Economics of Labor and Community Participation
  • Labor Philosophy and Ethics
  • *Union Administration
  • *Union and Industrial Sociology
  • Labor Studies Problems
  • Government, Political Action and the Exercise of Power
  • The Maturing Worker

  • *Required for AA In labor Studies


The program was first offered in 1980 and initially experienced strong enrollments in a variety of the LABS courses. The vast majority of students were part‐time with a few full‐time students. There were very few students who completed the AA Degree in Labor Studies during the life of the program< although a number of certificates were awarded.

The program was headquartered at the DMACC Urban Campus. The majority of LABS courses were scheduled in the evening and on weekends to increase student access. Many students were encouraged by the local union leaders to enroll in LABS courses, and most were reimbursed for tuition and fees upon satisfactory completion of a course.

Over the years the demand for courses decreased slowly, probably based on the fact that most who were interested had completed the courses they were seeking. A number of the specialized LABS courses were discontinued for lack of enrollment. The program was discontinued in 1990, based on low student enrollments. There was general consensus by college and labor leaders that the program had accomplished the objective of improving the knowledge of skills for its target group.