Lesson PlansBack to lesson plans archive September 6, 2021
Lesson plan: Labor Day and unions today
Supporters of the California Grape Boycott demonstrate in Toronto, Ontario, December, 1968. The 1965-1970 Delano grape labor strike was organized by the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee and the United Farm Workers against grape growers in California. Photo of “United Farm Workers Collection, Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University
Created by Tina Yalen and Michael Magathan – Repurposed by Katie Gould
Economics, government, civics, social studies
Two 45-minute classes or one 90-minute block
- Start by explaining the upcoming main activity briefly to your students and pass out the “Applications” sheets (see handout on the top right of the page) to them two days before the activity takes place. This will allow you and the students time to select what roles they will have.
- Divide the class into the two teams of Labor and Management and announce who will be playing what role for each team. You can divide students using your Learning Management System for online learning purposes. Pass out, email or upload both sides of the “Demands” sheets to students the night before the activity. For homework, have them select the 6 most important demands for their team and be ready to share their choice with their group through the LMS, Google doc or email.
Warm up activity
Background on unions and Labor Day
- Ask students what they know about unions and write their answers on the board, a Google doc or LMS system. Many may know nothing about unions, so you may need to prompt them to think of any union-related historical events they may have learned about.
- Provide students with this definition: an organized association of workers formed to protect and further their rights and interests; a labor union.
- Start with this short NewsHour article on the history of Labor Day or watch the short video clips that give a brief background on unions and the holiday Labor Day:
- Pass out, email or upload the student handout “Unions Play a Surprising Role in Your Everyday Life.” Have students read and watch the video together which provides examples of how the union plays a role in some everyday topics.
- Read the interview with Doyle Pryor Assistant General Counsel for the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) from 1992-2012, and learn more about the union’s role in professional sports.
“Negotiation”: A Labor/Management activity
- to expose students to the dynamics of a labor/management dispute involving a given set of issues
- to instill real-world awareness that resolution of conflict often depends on the art of compromise and the acceptance of the need for it
- to observe the difference between mediation and arbitration
- to improve skills in the following area:
- analysis of information
- creative problem-solving
- logical thinking
- communication skills and public speaking
- listening skills
- teamwork and leadership skills
Basic flow of activity:
- “Negotiations” scenario (see materials for scenario and demands) will be given to all students at least two days ahead of the start date as well as applications(see materials for applications) to be a Negotiator or Team Leader.
- Each class will be divided into two equal-sized “teams,” the labor team and the management team
- Each team will have its own Team Leader and several teams of Negotiators.
- The teacher will serve as Mediator/Arbitrator.
- Each team will be given a list of 12 “demands” that its side will be trying to achieve and each team will be asked to choose its top 6 priorities and work hard to achieve them in any agreed upon contract. (see materials for scenario and demands)
- There will be several rounds of negotiations. Between rounds, teams will huddle, revise and prepare for the next round.
- If needed, there will be a final round of negotiation- with an “all-star” team of negotiators appointed by the team leader w/ advice of his/her team.
- If both teams agree, any unresolved issues will be resolved by an arbitrator (teacher) who will announce the final decisions on the day of class.
- The endpoint/goal of “Negotiation” is to achieve a “contract” between labor and management that includes each side’s top priority without each side feeling like it lost. The goal, in short, is a “win-win” finish, not a “win-lose” finish.
- Following final negotiations, the debriefing process will occur. First, each student will analyze the process in writing; this will be followed by a class discussion in person or using the class’s LMS.
Proposed time sequence
- Brief Introductory Remarks (Teacher)
- 15 minutes: Opening team meetings Goals: Achieve a consensus on 6 priority demands, discuss possible responses to opposition demands, Team Leader- prepare an opening statement, Negotiators- prepare for round one
- 5 minutes: Both Team leaders make opening presentations (2 minutes each)
- 10 minutes: Round 1 negotiations, 5 minutes each side to focus on its two highest priorities; Mediator summarizes (Teacher)
- 10 minutes: Team Meeting to plan for Round 2
- Brief Introductory Remarks (Teacher)
- 10 minutes: Round 2- same rules as Round 1; second set of Negotiators; reverse sequence of teams
- 5 minutes: Team Meeting to plan for Round 3
- 10 minutes: Round 3- same rules as Round 1 & 2; third set of Negotiators; reverse sequence of teams
- 5 minutes: Team Meeting to plan Final Round; All-Star Negotiators selected by Team Leaders with the help/advice from teams
- 10 minutes: Final Round- same rules as rounds 1, 2, 3; All-Star Negotiators; reverse sequence of teams
- Closure: Offer of arbitration; debrief sheet
A special thanks to Doyle Pryor, neutral arbitrator and mediator, for his contribution to this lesson plan.
The Materials You Need
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Relevant National Standards:
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.7.1 Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.7.3 Analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in a text (e.g., how ideas influence individuals or events, or how individuals influence ideas or events).
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.8.1 Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.8.3 Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas, or events (e.g., through comparisons, analogies, or categories).
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.2 Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.7.1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.8.1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.7.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 7 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.8.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.7.4 Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with pertinent descriptions, facts, details, and examples; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.8.4 Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with relevant evidence, sound valid reasoning, and well-chosen details; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a range of formal and informal tasks.
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