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The Worker Institute builds on a 75-year tradition by the ILR School to help fulfill Cornell’s land grant mission – to assist working people in ensuring their rights on the job and in building effective organizations and strong communities.

Our Labor Leadership Development work focuses on labor movement leadership development, strategy design and organizational change in unions, professional associations and other worker organizations.

We seek to engage with leaders at the highest levels of labor and worker formations that are committed to organizational transformation and interested in innovative strategies. This encompasses four broad areas of work:

  • Education and training for leaders of unions and worker organizations - Highlights include our signature projects, the National Labor Leadership Initiative, and the Union Leadership Institute, which have graduated hundreds of leaders from every sector of the labor movement.
  • Leadership development connected to strategic programs within select worker organizations – We design and deliver union-specific training programs to help build clarity, consensus and capacity to implement new strategic initiatives.
  • Strategic planning and technical assistance – We work with labor organizations to assist in the development of strategic programs that address new challenges in a changing political and economic climate.
  • Research on leadership and strategy – Our associates and academic faculty undertake a broad range of research on issues related to leading and managing worker organizations, innovative organizing and bargaining strategies, leadership development, and other areas of interest to union and professional association leaders and scholars.

New York State AFL-CIO/Cornell Union Leadership Institute



The New York State AFL-CIO/Cornell Union Leadership Institute (ULI) prepares labor and worker-justice leaders to effectively and strategically advance the rights of workers. 



ULI Graduation Class
Learn more about the Union Leadership Institute

National Labor Leadership Initiative



The National Labor Leadership Initiative (NLLI) is an intensive year-long leadership development program for top-level national leaders in the labor movement and the broader movement for worker justice.



Leadership class
Learn more about the National Labor Leadership Initiative


For more information contact:

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