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National Labor College

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National Labor College

National Labor College
Active 1969–2014
Type Private coeducational labor college
President Paula Peinovich, PhD
Academic staff
6 full-time [1]
Undergraduates 1,364 [2]
Location Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
Affiliations AFL-CIO

The National Labor College officially closed on April 26, 2014.[3] It was the only regionally accredited higher education institution in the United States devoted exclusively to educating union members and their families, and union leaders and staff. It was established as a training center by the [2][4]

The college announced its intention to sell its campus in 2012, and continue its work as an online program only. In November 2013, National Labor College announced its Board of Trustees had directed the college's president and officers to develop a plan to close the school. In July 2014 the Amalgamated Transit Union, AFL-CIO/CLC purchased the National Labor College campus. The ATU plans to expand its long-standing union education and activism program to the newly acquired campus.


In 1969 AFL-CIO President [5]

On November 6, 1974, AFL-CIO President George Meany dedicated the George Meany Center for Labor Studies, located on the former campus of Xaverian College. The property was purchased from the Xaverian Brothers by the AFL-CIO for $2.5 million in 1971. At the dedication, Meany remarked that the purpose of the institution was to help union officials "make a better contribution to our people and to our nation."[5][6]

In 1997 under the leadership of AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney, the center received authorization to grant baccalaureate degrees by the State of Maryland Higher Education Commission and became an independent institution of higher learning and renamed the National Labor College. By 2004, National Labor College had become fully accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.[5]

The National Labor College published Labor's Heritage, a scholarly journal of labor history, until 2004.[7]

In the fall of 2006 the new Lane Kirkland Center opened on the National Labor College campus, to provide upgraded facilities, and to greatly expand the college's hosting capabilities. At the time, the college hoped to promote the Kirkland Center as "America's union hall."

In 2009, the college entered into a partnership with Penn Foster Education, a career college subsidiary of the Princeton Review in order to develop a distance education program. The program was ended by the college in November, 2011, because of the slow growth of the program and the financial difficulties of the Princeton Review.[8] The college intended to use the facilities developed under this program to build its own program of distance education.[8] The losses from the joint program were in part responsible for the 2012 decision to close the college's campus and function in online education only.[9]


National Labor College used to offer classes toward Bachelor of Arts degrees, Associate of Arts degrees, and career certificates.

The Bachelor of Arts in Labor Studies programs were conducted in partnership with many individual unions, many of which – particularly in the building trades – have their own apprenticeship programs which are recognized as conferring the equivalent of an Associate degree. The National Labor College was also home to several HAZMAT and related training programs sponsored by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).


With a 47-acre (190,000 m2) campus located in Silver Spring, Maryland, a 72,000-square-foot (6,700 m2) state-of-the-art academic and conference center, and hotel quality residence halls, the college provided classroom, meeting spaces and dining services.[10]

In 2012, the college announced its intention to sell the campus and relocate to offices in the Washington, DC area and have an online presence only. Plagued by roughly $30 million in debt, the college depended heavily on the sale of the campus to remain open. National Labor College was on the verge of selling its campus when the deal fell through in June 2013. The AFL-CIO stated it didn't have enough money available to provide a bridge loan.[1][9] After the college closed, it was revealed that the college sold.

George Meany Memorial Archives

From 1993 until 2013, the college was home to the George Meany Memorial Archives, the official and acting archives of the AFL-CIO.[11] The archive is estimated to have a value of $25 million and contain more than 40 million artifacts.[12] The archives include the papers of numerous labor leaders, the official records of all AFL-CIO proceedings since the founding of the AFL in the 1880s, the archives of numerous union and federation publications, and the records of the departments of the AFL-CIO. The archives contain extensive correspondence relating to past AFL-CIO international activities the Cold War which remain classified by most national governments.

On October 1, 2013, the collection was transferred from the National Labor College to the University of Maryland, where university archivists are digitizing the archive's artifacts to make them more readily available to the public.[12]

National Workers Memorial

The National Workers Memorial, dedicated on April 28, 2010, was erected on the college's campus to honor the memory of workers killed or fatally injured on the job, or in service to the labor movement.[13] After the sale of the campus, the college intends to relocate the memorial to an appropriate location.[9] Australia established a National Workers Memorial, a memorial with a similar intent, in its national capital, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, in 2013.[14]


On November 12, the National Labor College Board of Trustees directed Peinovich and the college's officers to develop a plan to close the college due to the institution's ongoing financial difficulties. According to Peinovich, the sale of the campus would have made the college solvent. In an open letter to the college's community of students, alumni and supporters, Peinovich announced the college closure would likely take many months, and emphasized that the college is exploring options for current students to complete their degrees in an affordable and accessible way.[1][15]


  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c
  6. ^ "AFL-CIO Labor Study Center Dedicated in Silver Spring," by J.Y. Smith, The Washington Post, Nov 7, 1974, pg. C14.
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b Goldie Blumenstyk, "National Labor College Ends Joint Venture With For-Profit Partner" Chronicle of Higher Education [1]
  9. ^ a b c
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^

External links

  • The National Labor College
  • George Meany Memorial AFL-CIO Archives
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